In the summer of 2014, the Reflective Democracy Campaign compiled race and gender data from a dataset of elected state and county prosecutors in 46 states. Prosecutors are the most powerful figures in the criminal justice system. They alone decide whether to file or drop charges, and how stiff a sentence to seek. Meanwhile, race and gender disparities plague the sector.
We looked at the 2,437 elected prosecutors across the nation as of the summer of 2014 and found that white Americans held 95% of elected prosecutor positions.
A deeper analysis of the research revealed:
- 3/5 of states, including Illinois, had no elected Black prosecutors.
- In 14 states, all elected prosecutors were white, including Washington with 39 elected prosecutors and Tennessee with 31.
- All but one of Missouri’s 113 prosecutors were white.
- Outside of Virginia and Mississippi, only 1% of elected prosecutors were Black.
In 2019, we updated our prosecutor data and released Tipping the Scales: Challengers Take on the Old Boys Club of Elected Prosecutors.
In the Media
Sixty-six percent of states that elect prosecutors have no blacks in those offices, a new study has found, highlighting the lack of diversity in the ranks of those entrusted to bring criminal charges and negotiate prison sentences.“A Study Documents the Paucity of Black Elected Prosecutors: Zero in Most States.” New York Times