Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $385,715)
The grantee, the Vera Institute of Justice, will partner with the New York County District Attorney's Office (DANY) to examine discretionary prosecutorial decisions for the purpose of reducing racial and ethnic disparity in case outcomes. Vera will work with DANY, expert consultants and local stakeholders to develop monitoring capabilities that identify potential disparity, and reexamine policies and practices that may contribute to disparity at stages including case screening, dismissal, charging, plea and sentencing recommendations. Data from DANYCaseInfo will be supplemented with data provided by the criminal court and departments of police, probation, and corrections for misdemeanor and felony cases disposed in 2010. About 20 assistant district attorneys across units will be interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire to identify: factors including strength of evidence that influence prosecutorial decisionmaking; and four offenses of interest. A random sample of 3,000 cases will be drawn to represent equal distributions of white, black, and Latino defendants, resulting in 250 cases per defendant race/ethnicity x offense type. Logistic regression models will be used to analyze case outcomes at each stage, and continuation ratio models will be used to partition case outcome analyses (subsequent decisions are conditional on preceding ones), controlling for defendant, victim, defense counsel, arresting officer, and prosecutor characteristics. In addition to the data and written deliverables required by NIJ, anticipated work products include increased local monitoring and analysis capacity, briefs on the partnership process and policy implications, and professional conference presentations.