Vera’s work in the area of prosecutorial discretion helps prosecutors collect and analyze data at critical discretion points in the prosecutorial process, such as initial case screening, charging, and plea offers. Following data collection and an initial analysis, Prosecution and Racial Justice Program (PRJ) staff and prosecutors work together to identify other factors that may be driving case outcomes. PRJ staff then assists prosecutors to create reports of data findings, integrate these findings into management processes, and devise policies that reduce the risk of biased decision making.
Since 2006, PRJ has partnered with four jurisdictions—Milwaukee, WI; Mecklenburg, NC; San Diego, CA; and Lancaster County, NE—to collect and analyze data that will lead to better criminal justice policy, practice, and research.
Starting in January 2012, with support from the National Institute of Justice, PRJ began an 18-month partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (DANY) to identify and reduce unwarranted racial and ethnic disparities in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. PRJ researchers are examining the relationship between discretionary prosecutorial decisions and racially disparate case outcomes and assisting DANY to develop and implement new policies and practices to address unwarranted disparities.