A new study conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice found that black and Latino defendants in Manhattan are more likely to be held pretrial and ultimately sentenced to prison than white and Asian defendants.
The study used data from a whopping 200,000 resolved cases in Manhattan ranging from misdemeanors and violations to burglaries and domestic violence during 2010-11. Its intent was to examine potential prosecutors’ biases within the justice system.
“The shame is not in finding that we have unconscious biases or that our current policies have a disproportionate racial impact – the shame lies in refusing to ask the questions and correct the problems,” says Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance.
The study also found that during plea bargains, black and Latino defendants were “more likely than white or Asian defendants to receive a sentence offer including jail or prison term” over community service, probation, or fines. However, blacks and Latinos fared better in misdemeanor drug charges, more than likely having their cases dismissed.
Asian defendants received the most favorable outcomes; they were less likely to be detained, receive community service, probation, or fines, or be incarcerated.