Just-Released Study Points to Racial Inequities in Santa Clara County Prosecution Rates

Santa Clara County prosecutes Latinos and African-Americans at a far higher rate than their share of the population, according to a study published this week.

Meanwhile, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Caucasians were prosecuted at a lower percentage than their representation in the community. District Attorney Jeff Rosen commissioned the study, which he compiled with help from BetaGov.org, a no-cost, nonprofit New York University-based research firm.

“A hard question is coming from our community and from communities across America: is our justice system fair to everyone?” Rosen said in a statement. “One study cannot answer that question, but it is a step, here in our office and in our community, toward coming to grips with the troubling parts of our system where there is racial inequity.”

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Source: Race and Prosecutions 2016

The report showed that black people make up 3 percent of the county population yet account for 11 percent of felony cases and 9 percent of misdemeanor cases. Latinos comprise 26 percent of the population yet represent 44 percent of all felony defendants.

White people make up a third of the county population, but 24 percent of felony cases and 27 percent for misdemeanors. Asian and Pacific Islanders represent 35 percent of residents and only 8 percent of felony defendants and 9 percent for misdemeanors.

Source: Race and Prosecutions 2016

Source: Race and Prosecutions 2016

The rate of prosecution held true for all crimes, according to the study. Half the people charged with resisting arrest between were Latino—that’s double their rate in the county population. Fourteen percent of those defendants were black, which is nearly five times their representation in the community.

Source: Race and Prosecutions 2016

Source: Race and Prosecutions 2016

The passage of Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot initiative that bumped some drug-related felonies to misdemeanors, reduced the number of defendants in all ethnic categories. The number of felony cases fell by more than 2,000 the year after voters approved Prop. 47.

“Because of the racial disproportionality across all crime types, this change in the law has a disproportionate effect to reduce the number of Hispanic/Latino adults and black/African American adults charged with felonies,” the report states.

Latinos also represented the majority of victims the DA office helped in 2015. Nearly half of the people assisted by the agency's Victim Services Unit identified as Latino.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 10.48.33 AM

The study also examined whether people coming from outside the county caused some of the disparities. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. The same inequities remained when looking at cases involving county residents.

The report makes no attempt to identify the root of those disparities, Rosen acknowledged. But that will be the next step.

“We are committed to asking hard questions of ourselves,” he said, “and providing more solutions in the days to come.”

Click here to read the entire report, titled Race and Prosecutions.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Lets go down to Atherton, Los Gatos and Almaden, randomly arrest some white people, and the balance will be restored! Awesome…….

    • Excellent idea Bohica.
      Let’s take a bunch of their money while we’re at it and that way we’ll solve the income inequality problem at the same time.

  2. How come no one complains when minorities are over represented in professional sports and entertainment?
    Should we try to balance that out too???

  3. I have some questions for these well-paid Studiers:

    What do they think we should do about it? Establish a white quota? If not, then… what, exactly? Reducing jail time for criminals?

    I have some questions:

    What is the percentage of black cops and ‘latino’ cops here? This article implies that white cops are over-arresting of people based on their race.

    Next: why do Pacific Islanders get arrested at the same low rate as whites and Asians? The reason couldn’t be cultural, could it? Nah. Because then they’d have to identify which culture gave someone their criminal tendencies.

    Accurately assigning cultures to individuals is not possible. But race is pretty easy to quantify with DNA.

    This is just more evidence that the Liberal/prog/Left narrative has completely run out of gas. Emotion has replaced reason. Also, they never have better arguments.

    They’re just pandering to the ‘racist’ meme/talking points. But as usual, when their claims are scrutinized they fall apart. (Read the report. It doesn’t quite conclude what the writer does.)

    For example, they base their argument on the passage of Prop 47, saying it has reduced jail time for blacks and latinos.

    Well, DUH.

    Less jail time for people arrested for drugs; blacks and hispanics are the ones most affected.

    Draw your own conclusions…

    • > This is just more evidence that the Liberal/prog/Left narrative has completely run out of gas. Emotion has replaced reason. Also, they never have better arguments.

      Jennifer hits “replay” on the tribalist narrative.

      Just more evidence of how FUNDAMENTALLY the politics of “the Left” is based on tribalism.

      What matters to “the Left” is NOT behavior, but what tribes you pledge obeisance to.

  4. I’ll bet there is a large disparity between conviction rates of men and women as well, but your story fails to mention that. Should we look at all things being equal, 51% of the population being women, we might then incarcerate white women at the same rate as latino men? The answer is simple, thats a stupid argument women don’t commit crime at any where near rate of men much less latino men.

    You seem to be stuck on stupid Miss Wadsworth. The conviction in this country is not based on ethnic quotas,
    It is based on crimes committed by. If you want that to change you might start with not tolerating antisocial behavior in our schools, “sanctuary cities”, and ethnic studies that make up the excuses for all this crap!

    • Thanx, Mr. Gun. Excellent points. Obviously, we need a police force that’s 51% female — or more tax money will be wasted on yet another rigged ‘study’.

      Crimes and incarceration rates for blacks is seven times higher than for whites. But whose fault is that? This article gives the answer:


      This carp is all part of the same Leftist narrative, which turns America’s exceptionalism upside down:

      • ‘Equal opportunity’ has been morphed into ‘Equal results’

      • ‘Affirmative action’ is simply racist discrimination against better qualified applicants who were bypassed

      • ‘Quotas’ for admissions keep Asian and white kids out of the best schools

      • MLK’s ‘Content of character’ speech is ignored, because it flatly contradicts the Left’s narrative

      Prove me wrong, Jennifer.

      And why hasn’t this kind of study been done in the Olympics? Or in sports? Or in pop music? Or in any other competition open to all? Is da man keeping other races down? If so, why would that be limited to the police force? (Oops, most new cops are now ‘minorities’. So nevermind that one…)

      This brings up a point that we’ve all seen lately: censoring opposing points of view. Within a year censorship will be routine and widespread; they can’t have the Proles actually thinking for themselves.

      For example, I just wrote a well thought out, serious comment for a blog (Quora). It was long post, with several reference links. I was extremely polite, too. But guess what…

      …you guessed it. My comment was deleted shortly after it appeared. When I wrote them asking what happened, their answer was that I had ‘violated’ their posting rules. But they didn’t say which particular rules, and that was the only email of mine they’ve ever answered. So I read all their rules, but they are so vague and arbitrary that anyone could be banned for anything.

      We’re seeing this more and more. Pretty soon, with control of the internet now handed off to other countries, comments on blogs like this one will be in danger. They will either support free speech, or they will be shut down. Put another way: If they toe the line and refuse to post “right wing” comments, the blog will be seen as a fellow traveler, and the blog’s ad revenue will continue to flow.

      So we had best ask our questions now, while we still can. For example: How many independent taxpayers were on this commission? Was there any conservative input? At all?

      Nope. Everyone is on the payroll, so none of them will rock the boat. But does that benefit the public?

      Same answer: Nope. It only benefits the public parasites that fabricate these bogus ‘studies’. Sure, those ‘good’ minorities might get some crumbs — paid for by money confiscated from the ‘bad’ minorities. But they will get it due to the same institutional racism they cried about for so long.

      So, now that they have the opportunity, are they going to act ethically? Or will they use other folks’ generosity to stick it to those same people, like they did in South Africa? (If you chose B, you were correct.)

      See, I answered their questions for them. And I answered them honestly.

      Because if/when they answer, they just lie; the truth is not in the Left.

      • Thank you Smokey I like your comments too.

        One of the things you might try is keep your comments a little shorter, some blogs will limit size if they are putting it on paper and ink.

        I would like to thank SJI for publishing most of our comments, like it or not I do respect them having posted most of my comments these last few years.

        For that I will give them my first “Golden Bullet Award” !

        • Re: Comment length

          I have discovered that when using Google’s Chrome browser, the comment window is constrained and doesn’t expand, thus limiting the comment length.

          One workaround is to post lengthier comments using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

          I suspect there might be actual Googlers in SJI’s user community, and if one of them would kindly bring this issue to the attention of Mr. Google, it might get resolved.

  5. Here’s a novel idea: prosecute ‘individuals’ at the rate at which they commit crimes and are arrested to be brought to prosecution. It’d be a perfect 1:1 rate.

    Blacks and Hispanics get prosecuted at rates exceeding their representation because they COMMIT CRIMES at rates which EXCEED their population representation.

    If activists want to change the rates of prosecution so that the rates are equal to representation it seems to me that they have two options:

    1. Work within those communities to ensure that they commit crimes at the same rates, but more intelligently so as to reduce their rates of arrest (and hence, prosecution)

    2. Work within these communities to help them only commit crimes at rates which EQUAL their population representation so as to be just like everybody else.

    And while we are on the subject, here’s the reason I know that activist groups like BLM are actually completely hypocritical:

    The only reason they protest is when black people are killed by police officers. Black people kill other black people at 40 x the rate that police officers do. But you never see BLM protesting the most recent killing of a black kid by the local Crip, Blood, or whatever other gang du jour happens to be active at the time.

    But I digress. Bottom line is this: Blacks and Hispanics get arrested and prosecuted more often because they commit crimes at rates exceeding their representation. Victims of violent crimes identify blacks and hispanics at rates roughly equivalent to arrest and prosecution rates. The stats are out there on the DOJ website for anyone who isn’t too lazy or intellectually dishonest to bother finding out for themselves.

  6. If you refuse to look at prosecution rates against the rate of criminal activity within racial subgroups, at least look at the percentage of county population that is in their crime years. It is no mystery that 0-14 and 40-60+ year olds commit very little crime compared to 15-28 year olds but the racial breakdown of the age group committing the most crime may not mirror the county population. I would be interested in seeing that data.

    If the majority of a particular race is between 15-27 and they are prosecuted disproportionately more that is not surprising even assuming that crime rates between racial subgroups are equal.

    I agree the study has a lot more work to do to say anything meaningful. One wonders why it was published at all.

    • “One wonders why it (this study) was published at all.”

      Simple economics Eric.
      BetaGov supplies a product. BetaGov makes money every time somebody buys their product. Evidently there’s a market for the product that BetaGov sells. Jeff Rosen, our District Attorney, is one of the consumers who wants the product that BetaGov sells.
      As long as politicians like Jeff Rosen are allowed to continue to waste tax dollars on BetaGov’s product then that is exactly what politicians like Jeff Rosen will do. And BetaGov will continue to profit.
      In simpler, more honest times snake oil was called snake oil. Now it’s called a “racial inequity study”

  7. > . . . Racial Inequities in Santa Clara County Prosecution Rates

    Well, maybe there are “racial inequities” in the commission of crimes.

    Might it be true that the inclination to be “law abiding” would be a consequence of one’s culture. As would be the propensity to commit crimes.

    And, haven’t we been told that “white culture” and “minority cultures” are different. And one of the problems of white people is that they are “insensitive” to minority cultures.

    And, conversely, blacks in particular are often “dissed” for the societal offense of “acting white”.

    So, wouldn’t a logical, rational explanation of the “racial inequities” in the commission or crimes be that white culture somehow constrains white people from lawlessness, and if white people were more “multicultural” and embraced black and Hispanic cultures, they would be more lawless and the “racial inequities” in criminal activity and prosecution rates would disappear.

    • As usual, your efforts to get liberals in trouble with their own words is interfering with your ability to state your own position.

      >> haven’t we been told that “white culture” and “minority cultures” are different

      I don’t know, have you? And if so, do you agree or disagree?

      >> wouldn’t a logical, rational explanation of the “racial inequities” in the commission or [sic] crimes be that white culture somehow constrains white people from lawlessness

      This time you didn’t put “white culture” in quotes. Which leads me to think that you — not just the liberals you are mocking — actually think there is such a thing. So then please explain. What is white culture? Is it distinct from American culture or Judeo-Christian culture or European culture? And how does it constrain lawlessness? And when did it start constraining lawlessness? At some time after the Vikings were marauding? After the Spanish conquistadores were pillaging? Is it a relatively recent development that white culture began constraining lawlessness? Are there any white criminals at all in existence? And if there are, are those just white people who did not get the memo on white culture? Please explain, without just posting links to a bunch of websites.

      Take a break from making fun of other people’s positions and explain your own. If you have one.

      • > Which leads me to think that you — not just the liberals you are mocking — actually think there is such a thing. So then please explain.

        You want ME to explain what YOU think?

        I think you’re probably better qualified. Why don’t YOU explain what YOU think.

        • Nice try. Nope, I want you to explain what YOU think. YOU said “white culture somehow constrains white people from lawlessness.” I didn’t say that. YOU said that’s a “logical, rational explanation” of racial inequities in the commission of crimes. I didn’t say that.

          So again, now that YOU said these things, what’s “white culture?” When did it start constraining white criminality? And how did white criminals — if any exist at all — miss the memo?

          I know you can float like a butterfly, Bubbles. Now show me if you can sting like a bee. Quit dodging the question.

          • > Quit dodging the question.


            I’m not “dodging the question”. I’m ASKING the question.

            The ruling class elite and their captive media LOVE to imply the answer without ever saying it. And their IMPLIED answer is that white people share a “white culture” and “white culture” is racist.

            Because if the progressive elites ever answered the question explicitly, they would have to answer comparative questions about “non-white” cultures.

            I call it “silhouette racism”. The ruling progressive elite never SAY white people are “racist”, they only surround white people with a matrix of constructs that can lead people only to the conclusion that all white people (except Hillary Clinton) are racist: “white supremacists”, “white skin privilege”, “white flight”, “acting white”, “white culture/values”.

            FYI, the construct of “white culture/values” was posted in a column by one-time SJI education columnist Joe DiSalvo. He quoted one of his students as bemoaning “the problem of white culture/values” in the schools. DiSalvo expressed zero judgmentalism about “the problem of white/culture values”.

            So, MEXICANO, let the cross-examination proceed:

            1. What is meant by “white culture/values”?
            2. What is the “problem” of “white culture/values”?
            3. Does “white culture/values” encompass “white supremacism”, “white skin privilege”, or “white flight”?
            4, Is “acting white” an acceptable behavior for African-Americans or Hispanics?

  8. 1. In Santa Clara County Main Jail, there are five groups one immediately sorted into if one is a guest of the jail – (1) white (2) black (3) latin (4) asian (5) other (this everyone whose not one of the other four listed above). Unique to our area, there are probably a lot more Vietnamese in the Asian category than other places. In the other category, there is probably a lot more South Asians because of our areas demographics. It’s interesting to me that the statistical categories are exactly what guests of the jail sort themselves into.

    2. This line is very important (from page 11 of linked study): ” a further analysis that controlled for more variables like income levels, education, policing policies, or adverse childhood experiences for example would alter these results. ” The question I always ask is yes blacks and latinos are over represented in criminal justice: but is this because systemic racism causes poverty which results in more crime or is there something about how race has been embedded in our society that causes prosecutors to charge blacks and latinos more?

    3. “The DA office filed charges in 89% of all misdemeanor cases reviewed and 73% of all felony cases reviewed regardless of rrace of the suspect.” Its’s suprising how rarely charges are not filed. in deciding to file charges,the DA office review police report and supporting documents to determine whether: (a) a crime has been committed (b) if they know who committed the crime (c) can it be proved beyond a reasonable doubt (d) whether prosecuting is the right thing to do. Almost 27% of felony arrests it would seem do not cross this threshold: seems like we should be careful when saying “they are all guilty if arrested”

    • — “The question I always ask is yes blacks and latinos are over represented in criminal justice: but is this because systemic racism causes poverty which results in more crime or is there something about how race has been embedded in our society that causes prosecutors to charge blacks and latinos more?” —

      What you’ve created for yourself with your “question” is a false dilemma, analogous to asking if blacks are overrepresented in the NFL because of systemic racism (and the resulting poverty) or the embedded racism of team owners – a question I assume you are too bright to ask.

      Based on your “question” it appears you’ve been binge eating assumptions. You assume systemic racism as a dominant socioeconomic force, poverty to be sufficiently widespread and severe to account for disparities in criminality, and racism to be deeply embedded in the minds of prosecutors. But these assumptions are unsubstantiated, and disprovable by examining the track record of other ethnic groups, not the least of which is Japanese-Americans, who, after their WWII internment/dispossession, resumed their remarkably law-abiding ways despite considerable race-based enmity and financial hardship (loss estimated at 80% of prewar holdings). And they did it before the advent of the social safety net.

      Your operating assumptions, which I assume you never leave home without, are of a type which I consider to be far more responsible for the injustices of the last half-century than the “embedded racism” over which you fret. The victims of your assumptions are verifiable and number in the tens of millions: children bused to distant and unwelcoming schools; college applicants denied the value of their hard work and merit; job applicants sacrificed in the name of diversity; careers opportunities lost to affirmative action; tens of billions of tax dollars squandered chasing the fantasy of intellectual equality; disastrously lowered standards for government employees and administrators; predator-liberating programs aimed at manufacturing proportion in the arrest and convictions of law breakers.

      Your assumptions are insatiable in their hunger for remedy. Requiring of those it champions nothing more than anecdote or feeling, the just society of your dreams has been set just beyond the outcry of that mythical last unsatisfied minority class member – positioned in a place we call infinity.

  9. To Bubbles:

    Thanks for your answer. Although I didn’t really understand parts of it, you at least stated your position. I think.

    Thank you.

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