95% of Us elected prosecutors are white

Prosecutors, arguably have much more influence over the United States legal system than police, as The New Yorker pointed out in May. Yet, while the nation is beginning to pay attention to the racial makeup of police forces around the country, little attention is paid to the race of elected prosecutors and how that effects the prison population. Of all the elected prosecutors in the United States, 95% of them are white, and 79% are white men, according to a new study published Tuesday by Women Donors Network. White people make up close to 63% of America's population. The study, which looks at the gender and race of America's 2,437 elected prosecutors as of the summer of 2014, also reveals that just 1% of elected prosecutors are women of color.

Most states have zero black elected prosecutors, and 15 states don't have any minority prosecutors at all. Latinos make up just 1.7% of elected prosecutors, even though they comprised 17% of the population as of 2013. The study also draws a direct link from the prominence of white prosecutors to a lack of indictments in cases over the past year in which police have killed black men and women. (It references the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice in particular.) The lack of indictments in those three killings draw an obvious contrast to the indictments levied against six Baltimore police officers for the recent killing of Freddie Gray. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who announced the charges on May 1, is a black woman, meaning she falls into the 1% of of minority women prosecutors in the U.S. The wider implications of this racial disparity are also spelled out in the study's findings. Prosecutors often determine whether to charge an arrestee with a crime. Many cases end with a plea deal from the defendant instead of a trial. In those cases, prosecutors negotiate prison sentences. Prosecutors are elected without an opponent 85% of the time, meaning their power is often left unchecked.
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