A study from the Center for Court Innovation found Black people in New York were disproportionately charged with misdemeanors between 2019 and 2020, reported the Gothamist. For minor offenses, Black people were overrepresented in the data examining of 31 misdemeanors, including resisting arrest.
According to the CCI’s report, Black people made nearly 50 percent of the 189,000 misdemeanor prosecutions between 2019 and 2020.
“The data doesn’t prove bias, it just proves we’re getting inequitable outcomes,” said Michael Rempel, one of the authors of the study. “Whatever the reasons for the outcome, the upshot is we’re looking at vast over-involvement of Black and brown people in a misdemeanor justice system that doesn’t ultimately promote either accountability or fairness.”
Just 12% of the misdemeanor arrests in New York City resulted in a conviction in 2019 and 2020 combined, and only 9% brought a jail sentence. About a third resulted in a plea deal to a lesser offense, like a non-criminal violation.
Per the study, out of the 31 charges examined, third-degree assault, petit larceny, minor drug possession and driving with a suspended license were the most common. Rempel said racial bias is suspected to be at the root of these cases, Rempel said via Gothamist.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reportedly fought against charges of resisting arrest saying “the punishments are disproportionately harsh, and fall disproportionately on the backs of people of color,” via Gothamist. Not only are they harsh but often fatal. In addition, the Gothamist reported that Bragg had supporting data proving the NYPD charged Black people at a higher percentage with resisting arrest.
From the Gothamist:
Robert Gangi of the Manhattan-based Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) released a study on racial discrepancies in arrests last week that mirrored what the Center for Court Innovation found.
“NYPD policing is blatantly racist,” Gangi said, pointing to years of arrest data his group has crunched showing similar racial disparities. “It’s a function of focus, and a focus of policy, based on where cops are deployed and the instructions they’re given. It’s purposeful, not accidental.”
At this point, it’s up to the state to do something to change the outcome of how Black people are treated by law enforcement. Per the CCI report, things like legalizing or decriminalizing some violations or making the police force more racially equitable are ways to change the trend of these statistics. However, until police start seeing Black people as human beings instead of “criminals,” we’ll have quite the way to go until we see a difference in treatment.