This analysis is limited to Black and white men in Charleston because of the demographics of Charleston and who is being arrested. According to the 2015-2019 Census American Community Survey (ACS) Black and white residents made up over 90% of Charleston’s 400,000+ total population. Hispanic and Latino residents are the next largest group at about 5% of the population. Furthermore, 98% of cases in Charleston involved a Black or white person arrested for a crime, 81% involved a Black or white man. Given the size of the Black and white population and demographics of who is being arrested, this report focuses on those communities since the statistical methods used are most sound when applied to such large groups.
Prosecution data for this report are from the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office’s case management system. Analyses of case outcomes across offense types rely on data for over 24,000 warrants referred to the Ninth Circuit between January 2015 and February 2020.
Cases stemming from arrests and those disposed of after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 are excluded, as policy changes by government agencies including the suspension of court hearings may have significantly changed trends in prosecution. Cases are limited to arrests in Charleston County for Black and white males. For the purposes of this report, the terms male and female were used according to the specifications within the data and do not necessarily correspond with an individual’s gender identity. Though the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office covers both Berkeley and Charleston Counties, cases are limited in this initial analysis to Charleston County to ensure that all data analyzed were entered consistently. We intend to extend the analysis to Berkeley County in future reports. Only Black and white males arrested in Charleston County are considered for statistical purposes.
For this report, cases and charges for a single individual are grouped together where they share an arrest date or are disposed of within 5 days of one another. This grouping is a result of conversations with solicitors that explained that such cases and charges are prosecuted as a whole. Cases at each stage of the prosecution process (Arrest, Indictment, Disposition) are tracked by the most serious charge at that stage. Sentences for the vast majority of the charges in the Ninth circuit are served concurrently (as opposed to consecutively). This allows us to focus on the “top charge” at each stage of the process. The "top charge" is the most severe charge in a case in terms of potential incarceration time (i.e., exposure), as determined by averaging the potential incarceration time for all individuals in our sample found guilty of that charge.