This section presents information on defendant characteristics, including race, ethnicity, age, and gender. It also presents information on criminal history and trends in offending.
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.
We are relying on our law enforcement partners to collect race and ethnicity data, and working with agencies to examine ways to improve the quality of this data and best practices to ensure it is correct.
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; therefore, we use the defendant’s last name to help identify their ethnicity.