Why is this important? Not all individuals are equally likely to come into contact with the justice system. Systemic drivers–such as neighborhood and access to education, employment opportunities, and health resources–can impact involvement. In addition, based on wealth, some defendants may be better positioned to get “out” of the system–for example, to pay bail, afford private counsel, or access treatment. Effective prosecution strategies should consider ways to ensure that cases are processed fairly, in light of these differences.
What are we doing to ensure that race and ethnicity data are accurate? Collecting accurate race, ethnicity, and gender data is critical to achieving equity and fairness in the justice system. It is best practice to collect race, ethnicity, and gender data via self-report, meaning that the defendant decides how they are identified.
While there are significant challenges in our current data collection practices regarding race and ethnicity, we look forward to collaborating with our law enforcement partners to improve this area in the future.
While individuals who identify as White and Hispanic are underrepresented in the criminal justice system as compared to their percentage of the population, Native American are overrepresented, an area we must examine and address as a community.
This chart challenges the assumption that young people are more prone to commit crime. Here we see that those older than age 26 commit the vast majority of crime in our community.
Below are a set of indicators that provide additional context about defendant characteristics. These indicators help the DA's Office reduce disparities in the criminal system and ensure we are treating all individuals fairly.
- Data on defendant demographics, including race and ethnicity, is reported to the DA’s Office by law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement currently captures this data through various mechanisms: (1) by linking to prior criminal history records, (2) by scanning a Colorado ID or driver’s license, (3) through fingerprint technology, or (4) based on the officer’s “perceived demographic information of the person contacted” (as required by HB21-1250). Officer assumptions have the potential to lead to inaccurate or inconsistent data.
- In benchmarking against the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice we found that individuals identified as Hispanic are underreported in our data.