Santa Clara Co. D.A. issues race & prosecutions report; concludes no bias

SAN JOSE (BCN) A study released by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office today said its prosecutors don't show bias when charging defendants.

The district attorney's office said the report showed prosecutors handed the cases similarly whether or not they knew the defendant's race.

"Disproportionality within the criminal justice system is likely to be a persistent, pernicious problem," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. "We will not shirk from it. The fight to make sure that the system is fair to every person in our community may not be won in a year, or 10. We will work toward that goal, growing better and fairer, as a prosecutor's office and as a community."

The district attorney's office said the report is part of an ongoing review to see if the office handles cases fairly in regards to race.

The report, which is 16 pages long, breaks down race-related statistics with ongoing analysis, the district attorney's office said. 

District Attorney Jeff Rosen launched the study last year.

The district attorney's office said staff worked with "academic think tank" BetaGov and removed racial identifiers from 74 cases before they were brought to prosecutors in the issuing unit of the District Attorney's Office.

According to the district attorney's office, prosecutors were asked to make a race-blind charging decision in half of the cases with no race information and the half were not redacted in the control group.

In either group, the district attorney's office said the study showed statistics in both groups were similar or within a few percentage points, but the major difference was in the African American issued felonies in the race-blind group compared to the control group: 21 percent received felonies in the race-blind group and just 8 percent did in the control group.

In addition, the district attorney's office said the report showed that African Americans make up 12 percent of the county's felony cases while only making up 2 percent of the county's population. Meanwhile, Hispanics make up 45 percent of the felony cases while only accounting for 27 percent 
of the county's population.

The report also found that crime victims and defendants who its office serves are often from the same part of the county as four of the top five zip codes for defendants and crime victims were the same.

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