The power of the prosecutor

Data shows prosecutors don’t introduce new racial disparities to the criminal justice system in Multnomah County, but they also don’t reduce them either – not yet. New information shows prosecutors may be on a path to doing so. And that they perhaps have rich opportunity to solve problems when other parts of the system fall short.

Is it a business to report on racial disparities?

It cost $2,400 to buy the Unequal Justice series. That’s not pay for the reporters or photographers. That’s not the cost of editing and distributing the work, either. That’s just the cost to buy the story from the Oregon Judicial Department, which controls the bulk data that underpins the Oregon eCourt Case Information – the database a reporter analyzed to uncover the disparities reported in the series. It’s also something for which the Oregon Judicial Department charges money.

The high costs of disparities for people of color in Multnomah County

An analysis of more than a decade of court records in Oregon found that African-Americans paid $21.5 million more than whites for committing the same crimes. The finding proves there’s more than just police profiling at work in a system that treats African-Americans more harshly than whites, but police practices remain a factor in overcharging.

Riding along with the Portland Police Bureau

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This month, I offer a behind-the-scenes look at a very snowy ride with Officer Kevin Allen of the Portland Police Bureau. As luck would have it, it was Jan. 10 when the bureau set me up for a ride-along with Officer Allen. The Portland native ended up being my tour guide during one of the biggest snowstorms the city has seen in two decades.