White justice?

Washoe District Attorney Chris Hicks at a recent news conference. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt stands behind him.

Washoe District Attorney Chris Hicks at a recent news conference. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt stands behind him.

A study released last week by the Women Donors Network (WDN) found that 67 percent of states with elected prosecutors have no blacks in those offices.

Even more striking, approximately 95 percent of 2,437 elected prosecutors across the nation are white.

WDN questioned whether it was a factor “in the failures to indict police officers who killed unarmed Black men and women from Ferguson to Staten Island, in the rogue prosecutions of women who terminated their pregnancies from Indiana to Idaho, and in the ongoing epidemic of mass incarceration that disproportionately affects communities of color.”

The group also said a justice system filled overwhelmingly with whites means “life experiences [that] do not reflect those of most Americans. And, shockingly, this power goes virtually unchecked: 85 percent of elected prosecutors run unopposed, perpetuating the imbalance of power without accountability to the communities they are meant to serve and protect.”

Washoe County District Attorney Christopher Hicks was asked for a comment.

“While this study touches upon a significant topic, it does not take into account the demographics of the criminal prosecutors within the studied offices who make the bulk of decisions in charging and resolving cases,” he said in an email reply after reading the study. “Furthermore, it doesn't recognize the office demographics in comparison with the demographics of the community served. Every community is different. However, I recognize the importance of a community knowing the makeup of the prosecutors in its DA's offices. I seek to employ prosecutors who are devoted to serving justice without any improper bias or influence and with a sincere respect for the power we wield.

“There are 42 of those prosecutors in my office. 40 percent of those D.A.s are female. Moreover, 57 percent of my Chief D.A.s (those who supervise teams of prosecutors) are female. Lastly, 7.5 percent of the D.A.s are minorities, which is nearly double the average in the national study. Respectfully, the study does not effectively represent Washoe County. Furthermore, at the time of the study, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, the chief law enforcement officer of the entire State of Nevada, was female and Hispanic.”