​For release on October 26, 2016   CONTACT:  Sean Webby, Public Communications Officer
(408) 792-2997 RACE & PROSECUTIONS: NEW DA STUDY AND PARTNERSHIP TACKLE OLD PROBLEM   The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and a non-profit agency have teamed up to study racial disproportionality in the local criminal justice system.   BetaGov, a no-cost research firm which is affiliated with New York University, will help analyze data including recent statics compiled in a new DA Report entitled “Race and Prosecutions 2013-2015.”   The public report, which compiles 3-years of internal data, shows that Black and Latino felony and misdemeanor defendants make up a much higher percentage of the total number of the defendants than their respective percentages of Santa Clara County’s population. For example, Latinos make up close to 26 percent of the county’s population. Yet, they make up 44 percent of all felony defendants and 46 percent of all misdemeanor defendants in the county.   District Attorney Jeff Rosen initiated the study.   “A hard question is coming from our community and from communities across America: Is our justice system fair to everyone?” DA Rosen said. “One study cannot answer that question, but it is a step, here in our Office and in our community, toward coming to grips with the troubling parts of our system where there is racial inequity.”    Other statistics found in the initial study included:  
  • Black defendants make up about 3 percent of Santa Clara County, but they make up 11 percent of the county’s felony defendants; and 9 percent of the misdemeanor defendants. 
  • Whites make up about 33 percent of the county’s population. They make up 24 percent of the felony defendants and 27 percent of the misdemeanor defendants.
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders make up more than 35 percent of the population. Yet they only make up 8 percent of the felony defendants and 9 percent of the misdemeanor defendants.
  • The study also looked to see if the racial disparities were caused or exacerbated by people coming to Santa Clara County from elsewhere. That was not the case.  The same racial disparities existed even when analyzing cases where only Santa Clara County residents had been charged with crimes.
  The study does not identify – or try to identify – why these disproportions exist. DA Rosen said that he hoped further and closer examinations of the data may help find some new insights and practices to reduce inequalities. “We are committed to asking hard questions of ourselves,” the DA said. “And providing more solutions in the days to come.” # # #

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