Written By: Emma Wilkinson 7/7/15
The Women’s Donor Network released a study today on the scarcity of Black and Brown elected prosecutors.
Fueled by the Black Lives Matter Movement and increased media coverage of incidences of police brutality, concern about the equality of the American justice system has been steadily increasing for months.
The WDN’s study entitled Justice For All? investigated the representation of women and people of color in elected prosecutors across the country. The results were not encouraging.
Researchers found that 60 percent of states have no elected Black prosecutors. Additionally, even though Latinos are 17 percent of the United States’ population, they make up just 1.7 percent of elected prosecutors.
Of 2,437 elected prosecutors, just 1 percent are women of color. Further, Maine is the only state where female elected prosecutors make up 50 percent of their total, matching women’s population in the country.
Considering that white men comprise 31 percent of the country’s population and yet represent 79 percent of the elected prosecutors, the study points out that this lack of representation might explain inequality in the justice system.
According to the key findings of the report:
The current overrepresentation of white people, and white men in particular, among elected prosecutors, is a structural flaw in a criminal justice system that has:
- Failed to indict or convict police officers for the killing of unarmed Black men and women
- Allowed rogue prosecutions of women who terminated their pregnancies
- Perpetuated racial discrepancies in the prosecution of nonviolent drug-related offenses, contributing to mass incarceration.
This new report does raise questions about how many police brutality cases might have been handled differently if elected prosecutors were more diverse, especially looking at Marilyn Mosby’s decisive move toward prosecution in Freddie Gray’s case.
When she was sworn in as Baltimore’s prosecutor, she said: “As a black women who understands just how much the criminal justice system disproportionately affects communities of color, I will seek justice on your behalf.”
Electing a less white and less male body of prosecutors might be one of the steps toward fixing a system that many argue does not do enough for people of color and women.