This report describes and assesses the research model used in an analysis of cases processed by the New York County District Attorney's Office (DANY) between 2010 and 2011, in order to determine the influence of defendants' race and ethnicity on case acceptance for prosecution; detention status; plea offers to a lesser charge and custodial punishment offers; case dismissals; sentencing; and charge dynamics, as well as other factors influencing prosecutorial decisionmaking.
The project - which was conducted by the Vera Institute (Vera) in consultation with DANY and funded by the National Institute of Justice - consisted of an evaluation and analysis of existing administrative data; interviews with prosecutors in order to better understand case processing and data limitations; the collection of data from a sample of 2,409 case files; hosting meetings to discuss research findings and their policy implications; and disseminating findings through reports, peer-reviewed publications, and conference presentations. This report concludes that this model for building researcher-practitioner partnerships proved effective in building a researcher-practitioner partnership that maximized the opportunity to conduct unprecedented research in a large, diverse jurisdiction. Vera analyzed a complex dataset and collected additional data needed to understand all aspects of case processing, from initial screening to sentencing. The collaborative process facilitated the exchanging of ideas and support for one another in meeting challenges. The model produced a number of findings with practical implications for both DANY and district attorneys' offices nationwide. There were three key factors in the model's success. First, the project evolved from a mutual desire to work together to achieve benefits from the research. Second, both partners emphasized the importance of building an open, comfortable, and trusting relationship. Third, throughout the project, both partners fulfilled their commitments as laid out in the memorandum of understanding and as discussed in early conversations. Appended process map and the memorandum of understanding
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: January 1, 2014