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Blacks Overrepresented In Philadelphia Arrests, Charges

Black Philadelphians continue to be overrepresented in arrests and criminal charges compared to the broader population. That’s a key finding in the District Attorney’s Racial Injustice Report issued Monday. Despite increased focus on disparity in recent years, the DA’s report finds the gap in treatment for Black residents has worsened as a result of federal, state, and local laws and policies, WHYY reports. The District Attorney’s Transparency Analytics Lab “analyzes data and outcomes that are only accessible to criminal legal system partners in order to provide the public with a transparent accounting of how systemic racism and economic inequality continue to present in — and are compounded by — policing, incarceration, and the criminal courts.” The report found that between 2015 and 2022, Black defendants were charged at a disproportionately higher rate in seven out of the eight most common criminal categories.

It also found that Black and Latino residents convicted of aggravated assault or burglary are “more likely to be sentenced to incarceration than white individuals convicted of the same crime.” “Black Philadelphians made up just under 40% of the population, but nearly 70% of police stops and more than 60% of arrests,” said Wes Weaver of the DA’s analytics unit. “Of those who are stopped, people who are Latinx or Black are frisked and searched one-and-a-half times more frequently than people who are white and three times more frequently than those who are Asian American or Pacific Islander.” He added that, “Black and Latinx people represent 65% of people sentenced to incarceration. More than 70% of people sentenced to two or more years.” Attorney Michael Coard said the DA’s report highlights the unequal expectations Philadelphia residents have when interacting with the criminal justice system. “If tomorrow you had to be a defendant in a criminal case and all things are equal. Same job, same education, same neighborhood, same religion, but you had to go to court as a Black defendant or a white defendant. Which one would you choose?” he asked rhetorically.


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