‘No pervasive issues of racism,’ according to Denver DA study

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver district attorney’s office released on Wednesday a years-long study regarding racial disparities when prosecuting those accused of criminal activity in Denver.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann shared the results of the multi-year study that asked the question, does race and ethnicity play a role in the way the Denver DA’s office does business?

“One of my major concerns was the disproportionate representation of people of color in the criminal justice system,” said McCann.

The study was funded by the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at the University of Denver.

“We were immediately excited about it because the goals were so clear, fair, and equal justice and transparency in their work,” said Dr. Elysia Clemens, Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab.

Drawing on cases accepted for prosecution between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, and interviews with Denver prosecutors, the study found, “No pervasive issues of racism, bias or implicit bias in the office,” said McCann.

The study, however, recommended further review in the following cases: those involving Black defendants more likely to be dismissed; white defendants more likely to be deferred or pled down; and white defendants on drug charges that were more likely to be handled in drug court and not district court.

“I am planning to continue this research to help us drill down further in these categories that have been addressed,” said McCann.

The study also recommends supporting cultural awareness and racial justice, which would be an important first step in equitable outcomes.

The study can be found on the Denver District Attorney Office website.

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