From the website:
Vera’s Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) conducted a review of 34 empirical studies on the relationship of race and ethnicity to prosecutorial decision making published between 1990 and 2011 in peer-reviewed journals. The literature review distills the research and provides a reference resource for a diverse audience—including academics, practitioners, and interested generalists—about the current state of the debate on these subjects. The aim of the literature review is to encourage additional empirical research on the relationship between race and prosecution by identifying areas that need further study; provide prosecutors and other criminal justice practitioners with a frame of reference in which to assess their own practices; and strengthen the general public’s understanding of the criminal justice system.
From the Press Release:
“No other actor in the criminal justice system drives case outcomes as profoundly as the prosecutor,” PRJ director Whitney Tymas writes in her introductory note. “Nevertheless, empirical research analyzing racial impacts of prosecutors’ routine choices on the thousands of defendants and victims with whom they interact daily has been scarce.”
Among the review’s key findings:
- Defendants’ and victims’ race appear to affect prosecutorial decisions. Most of the 34 studies reviewed found influences on case outcomes, even when other legal and extra-legal factors are taken into account.
- The effect of race and ethnicity on prosecutorial decision making is inconsistent.
- As compared to whites, it is not always blacks or Latinos and Latinas who receive more punitive treatment.