Changing the Math for Conviction Rates

Changing the Math for Conviction Rates

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - In the pages of city prosecutors’ own reports, Fox45 has found inconsistencies with how the Baltimore City State’s Attorney calculates conviction rates. The State’s Attorney defends her conviction rate calculations, and says the rates show her office is effectively prosecuting cases.

We first reported on the math behind conviction rates a couple of weeks ago.

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby says her office has a 92% conviction rate for 2017. That rate does not include dropped cases that prosecutors choose not to prosecute. Figure in those cases, and the conviction rate drops to 56%.

“You wouldn’t include cases that are [dropped] in any sort of conviction rate,” Mosby said in an interview with Joy Lepola in March.

Mosby’s predecessor, Gregg Bernstein did include dropped cases in his conviction rates. Jeremy Eldridge was a prosecutor under Bernstein.

“That rate, in and of itself, was very telling of the office’s performance,” Eldridge said.

Looking at Mosby’s reports her office releases each year, we found Mosby in her first year in office, did include dropped cases in her homicide conviction rates.

In 2017, Mosby’s homicide conviction rate was 77 percent. In 2015, it’s slightly higher at 79 percent, and that rate includes dropped cases.

But when dropped cases aren’t counted, that 79 percent jumps to 86 percent, meaning Mosby’s homicide conviction rate fell almost ten percentage points in two years.

“We follow the standards of the National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) when we calculate our conviction rates, and I stand behind our conviction rates,” Mosby said.

After our first story, the APA, released a statement defending Mosby’s conviction rate math:

“Factoring in [dropped cases] contradicts the definition of justice in this country and assumes that all defendants charged by police are guilty without due process.”

Mosby adds that dropped cases don’t reflect how prosecutors are performing in court.

“It may not be an indicator of how they’re performing in court, but it’s definitely an indicator of how they’re performing out of court and where the taxpayer money is going,” Eldridge said.

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