Misdemeanor Prosecution | NBER

Communities across the United States are reconsidering the public safety benefits of prosecuting nonviolent misdemeanor offenses. So far there has been little empirical evidence to inform policy in this area. In this paper we report the first estimates of the causal effects of misdemeanor prosecution on defendants’ subsequent criminal justice involvement. We leverage the as-if random assignment of nonviolent misdemeanor cases to Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) who decide whether a case should move forward with prosecution in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. These ADAs vary in the average leniency of their prosecution decisions. We find that, for the marginal defendant, nonprosecution of a nonviolent misdemeanor offense leads to large reductions in the likelihood of a new criminal complaint over the next two years. These local average treatment effects are largest for first-time defendants, suggesting that averting initial entry into the criminal justice system has the greatest benefits. We also present evidence that a recent policy change in Suffolk County imposing a presumption of nonprosecution for a set of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses had similar beneficial effects: the likelihood of future criminal justice involvement fell, with no apparent increase in local crime rates.

Founded in 1920, the NBER is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to conducting economic research and to disseminating research findings among academics, public policy makers, and business professionals.
— Read on www.nber.org/papers/w28600

From the VERA Institute

Misdemeanor cases make up over 80 percent of the cases processed by the U.S. criminal justice system, yet we know little about the causal impacts of misdemeanor prosecution. In this talk, we will report the first estimates of the causal effects of misdemeanor prosecution on defendants’ subsequent criminal justice involvement. To do this, we leverage the quasi-random assignment of nonviolent misdemeanor cases to arraigning assistant district attorneys in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts between 2004 and 2018. We find that the marginal prosecuted misdemeanor defendant has a substantially higher risk of being charged with a subsequent criminal complaint, of being prosecuted on that complaint, and of acquiring a criminal record of that complaint, within two years of their initial case. These effects appear to work through a longer time to case disposition, an increased likelihood of acquiring a criminal record of a misdemeanor complaint, and an increased likelihood of a misdemeanor conviction in the current case.

See the VIDEO HERE:

https://www.vera.org/events/neil-a-weiner-research-speaker-series/misdemeanor-prosecution

Drug Arrests Stayed High Even as Imprisonment Fell From 2009 to 2019

To better identify and understand recent changes in and effects of the use of the criminal legal system to address drug problems, The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed publicly available national data on drug arrests and imprisonment, drug treatment, and harm from drug misuse from 2009 through 2019—the most recent decade for which data is available.
The study found divergent enforcement trends—high rates of arrest but substantially reduced incarceration—coupled with a lack of treatment options and high mortality rates among people with illicit drug dependence.

  • Drug possession arrests held steady at more than a million a year, in stark contrast with a large reduction in overall arrests, which dropped 29%.
  • Only 1 in 13 people who were arrested and had a drug dependency received treatment while in jail or prison.
  • Racial disparities in drug enforcement declined. Arrests of Black people for drug offenses fell by 37%, more than three times the drop among White people.
  • Increased arrests of White individuals for possession of methamphetamine offset declines in marijuana arrests and drove the reduction in racial disparities.
  • The numbers of people admitted to and held in state prisons for drug offenses both fell by about a third, accounting for 61% of the overall reduction in prison populations and 38% of the total decline in admissions.
  • The decline in the number of Black people incarcerated for drug offenses made up 26% of the decrease in prison admissions and 48% of the drop in the prison population.
  • Drug- and alcohol-related mortality rates increased fivefold in prisons and threefold in jails despite the decreases in the number of people in prison for drug offenses.

See more HERE

The report can be downloaded HERE

Chicago’s “Race-Neutral” Traffic Cameras Ticket Black and Latino Drivers the Most — ProPublica

A ProPublica analysis found that traffic cameras in Chicago disproportionately ticket Black and Latino motorists. But city officials plan to stick with them — and other cities may adopt them too.
— Read on www.propublica.org/article/chicagos-race-neutral-traffic-cameras-ticket-black-and-latino-drivers-the-most

2022 RIPA Board Report

The California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (Board) is pleased to release its fifth annual Report. The Report contains an analysis of the millions of police and pedestrian stops conducted in 2020 under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (“RIPA”) by 18 law enforcement agencies, including the 15 largest agencies, in California. The Report closely examines a wide range of issue areas related to racial and identity profiling, providing context and research to deepen stakeholders’ understanding of the stop data collected under the RIPA. In the Executive Summary, the Board provides an overview of the Report. For ease of reference, there is a separate Recommendations and Best Practices section pulling out the Board’s recommendations in 2022. The Board encourages law enforcement agencies, policymakers, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), community advocates, and individuals to use these recommendations and best practices as a platform for discussion and implementation of reforms that will improve public safety in California. The Board especially recognizes that the community is essential to any police reform and that agencies and government should include diverse community members to work in close partnership with them to improve police services in their communities and across California.


Download the full 2022 Report

The California State Attorney General Office can be found HERE

Past RIPA reports are available HERE

Cop Out: Analyzing 20 Years of Records Proving Impunity | New York Civil Liberties Union | ACLU of New York

In the summer of 2020, the New York Civil Liberties Union obtained a comprehensive database of complaints made by the public to the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the independent agency charged with investigating complaints about NYPD misconduct. Then in May of 2021, the NYCLU added updated and more detailed information to the database, which now
— Read on www.nyclu.org/en/publications/cop-out-analyzing-20-years-records-proving-impunity

Racial Disparities in Misdemeanor Speeding Convictions | RAND

In this report, researchers use data on speeding violations in Virginia to examine whether there are racial disparities in who benefits from the discretion of law enforcement and the courts to discount or downgrade misdemeanor violations.

— Read on www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1317-1.html

A .pdf of the report can be accessed at the website.