Hundreds of individuals stroll by means of the doorways of the Cuyahoga County Justice Middle every year to have their felony instances heard by judges.
Although Black individuals make up solely about 30% of the county’s residents, virtually two-thirds of the people who find themselves arrested by police and charged with felonies by prosecutors are Black. Then, after judges impose sentences, state information present three-quarters of individuals in state prisons convicted in Cuyahoga County are Black.
That’s proof that justice isn’t at all times blind.
Right here’s how: Cuyahoga County permits anybody with entry to the web to lookup an individual’s case information. However there is no manner to make use of these particular person information to evaluate the information of particular person judges, and the court docket has not launched that information publicly.
Judges play a key function in the best way justice is allotted. Bringing transparency to how they do their jobs is important to understanding flaws within the bigger system. It’s additionally pressing for voters, who’ve the duty of electing them or voting them off the bench. That’s what The Marshall Challenge heard from a refrain of teachers, attorneys, individuals who have skilled the system firsthand, and greater than 40 voters whom we labored with Cleveland Documenters to interview.
The Marshall Challenge is launching a brand new challenge — known as “Testify” — with an examination of who holds energy relating to choosing judges.
You could have heard about The Marshall Challenge, a nationwide journalism nonprofit that works to demystify the felony justice system. Testify, which is being printed by a number of media companions, is the primary funding in what we hope is a collaborative relationship with Better Clevelanders, as we launch our very first native information crew in 2022.
Among the work we plan in 2022 is predicated on a large endeavor: utilizing instruments to “scrape” the information, one case at a time, from the web dockets to assemble a database that might be analyzed — and shared with the general public.
We’ve additionally spent months gathering questions from the neighborhood, and people questions will assist us discover the factors the place injustice creeps into the system.
We discovered an imbalance in energy relating to electing judges.
By election and court docket information, we found that individuals who dwell in neighborhoods extra affected by the court docket system, and who understand it finest, vote much less typically in judicial races.
To study extra about what which means for justice in Cuyahoga County, learn our story here.
Testify is The Marshall Challenge’s investigation into Cuyahoga County’s Legal Courts.
Learn more about this challenge and how to contact us directly.
Have questions? Attend our workplace hours on February 3rd or February 8th.