Virginia Newspaper Finds Racial Disparities in Plea Outcomes

The Daily Press in southeastern Virginia released an article yesterday detailing its review of court records related to plea deals in the Hampton Roads circuit courts. According to the article, the newspaper found racial disparities in the outcomes of cases. In particular, the article states that the data examined indicates that, for some of the most commonly charged offenses, white defendants were more likely to receive a deal that did not include jail time as compared to African-American defendants.

A few examples of the data discussed in the article:

"Whites were able to negotiate plea bargains on charges of drug possession that resulted in no actual jail time in 65 percent of cases, compared to 56 percent for African-Americans."
"In plea deals on charges of distributing drugs, whites received no time in jail in 48 percent of their plea agreements, compared to 22 percent for African-Americans. All but a handful of these cases involved people who had been before the courts on other recent charges. All of that handful, of both races, negotiated plea deals that involved no jail time."
"For grand larceny — stealing goods worth more than $200, among the lowest thresholds for felony theft in the nation — 55 percent of whites negotiating plea deals received no jail time compared to 48 percent of African-Americans."

You can read the entire Daily Press article and the complete findings of the review here. The newspaper also has some very interesting charts containing the data they reviewed, available here.


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