Race and Ethnicity at Decision Points
In 2015, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 185, the Community Law Enforcement Action Reporting Act, or the CLEAR Act. The CLEAR Act mandates that the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) annually analyze and report data provided by law enforcement agencies, the Judicial Department, and the adult Parole Board, to reflect decisions made at multiple points in the justice system process. The CLEAR Act requires that the data be analyzed by race/ethnicity and gender. Senate Bill 15-185 mandated DCJ to report these data disaggregated by offense type.
DCJ prepared a summary REPORT and an interactive data DASHBOARD that presents the findings for calendar year 2015. These two reporting mechanisms—the report and the data dashboard—should be viewed together since only the report contains information regarding the data sets and the research methods. The report also contains data from the adult Parole Board and additional analyses regarding the impact of concurrent cases and prior history on court sentences. Only the dashboard includes detailed offense categories, that is, 17 arrest offense categories and 25 court case crime categories.
Because it is difficult to identify patterns in analyses that involve many categories, the report and the dashboard present a summary of the findings by collapsing the offense categories into four broad groups: Drugs, Other, Property and Violent crimes. Individual crime types are included in the dashboard within the four broad categories. Some crime types include multiple types of offenses. Please see Appendix A and Appendix B of the REPORT for information regarding the crime classification. The crime types include inchoate offenses (attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation).
Please note that the arrest data includes race and ethnicity information. However, Judicial systematically collects race but not ethnicity data. Consequently the majority of Hispanics are in the White category, and therefore the race/ethnicity information in the court data must be interpreted with caution.
Finally, the cases represented in the arrests, filings, sentences, and parole board sections are not necessarily the same cases. This is due to the fact that a lag exists between when an arrest results in a filing, when a filing results in a sentence, and when an offender is paroled. This study analyzes events (arrests, filings, sentences, parole decisions) that occurred in a single year.