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2023 RACIAL INJUSTICE REPORT: Disparities in Philadelphia’s Criminal Courts from 2015-2022

A report quantifying racial disproportionalities and disparate outcomes observed at multiple stages of a criminal case, using Philadelphia police, DAO, and court data spanning 2015 to 2022

Published onJun 06, 2023
2023 RACIAL INJUSTICE REPORT: Disparities in Philadelphia’s Criminal Courts from 2015-2022
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2023 RACIAL INJUSTICE REPORT: Disparities in Philadelphia’s Criminal Courts from 2015-2022
Description

Addressing racial injustice is among the most important goals of criminal justice reform. In Philadelphia and throughout the U.S., the negative impact of the legal system has fallen most heavily on Black communities. This report begins with a historical review, followed by a presentation of the data, and concludes with a discussion of future policy directions. The analysis, conducted by the District Attorney’s Transparency Analytics (DATA) Lab, encompasses over 290,000 cases charged from 2015-2022 and focuses on five main stages of a criminal case: 1) stop and arrest, 2) charging, 3) bail and pre-trial detention, 4) case outcomes, and 5) sentencing and incarceration. The data confirmed that while overall the system is shrinking, and far fewer Black and Latinx Philadelphians are arrested and incarcerated now than in 2015, significant disparities remain. During the study’s 8-year timeframe, Black Philadelphians were overrepresented at nearly every stage of the system compared to white and AAPI Philadelphians. Black Philadelphians were stopped and arrested at disproportionately higher rates than other groups, charged with more serious offenses, less frequently released pre-trial, and finally, when convicted, were more likely to be sentenced to incarceration. For charges alleging possession of drugs with intent to distribute, Latinx individuals were charged at a rate that was 12 times higher than white individuals. Other disparate trends were observed at nearly every stage of analysis. The historical research and data findings strongly suggest that disparities in the criminal legal system are driven by structural inequalities in society, such as concentrated poverty and widespread community disinvestment. The report concludes with a discussion of future policy directions to be taken by this office and other justice stakeholders.

 

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