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Report: Latinos ‘Severely Underrepresented’ Among California Prosecutors

A survey by Stanford researchers finds that while Latinos make up nearly 39 percent of the population, they make up less than 10 percent of the state's full-time prosecutors.

Report: Latinos 'Severely Underrepresented' Among California Prosecutors

GUESTS:

Rachel Cano, deputy district attorney, San Diego County

Traci Howard, assistant dean of admissions, California Western School of Law

Dennis Dawson, president, Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association

Transcript

The concern continues over the lack of racial diversity among police departments. But there is an equally troubling disparity among prosecutors.

A recent report from Stanford Law School finds that while Latinos make up nearly 39 percent of the population, they make up less than 10 percent of the California's full-time prosecutors.

When it comes to other minority groups — like blacks or Asians — they are "fairly evenly" represented among California prosecutors, the report said.

Researchers said the race "composition of California prosecutors is critical information for anyone concerned about the fairness of criminal justice in the state."

But the information from the study isn't new to some. Similar studies found that whites make up the majority of elected U.S. prosecutors.

In San Diego, 13 percent of county prosecutors are Latino, according to figures released by the District Attorney's Office.

Rachel Cano, deputy district attorney for the San Diego District Attorney's Office, said there are more prosecutors of color since Bonnie Dumanis was elected in 2002. But the recruitment process is difficult when there aren't many minorities becoming attorneys, she said.

"That number has increased significantly in the time that she has been the DA because diversity is important," Cano told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. "The pipeline issue is important. If you're not getting to college or not getting to law school then we can't recruit them in the DA's office."

Dennis Dawson, president of Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association who is also a former deputy attorney general for California, said diversity was "practically non-existent" when he began working for the state in the 1970s. He also said little has changed today.

"When I left office in 2012, there were 185 deputy attorney generals in the San Diego office. Four were African Americans. Today, three are African Americans," Dawson said. "We have not made any progress whatsoever. It's unacceptable."

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