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Pros and cons of 'blind justice'

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon's plan to remove any considerations of race from his prosecutors' initial decisions about what charges to file in criminal cases reinvigorates an old debate: Is justice best served when it is all-seeing and all-knowing? Or when it is blind?

Gascon last week announced his plans to use a tool, developed by the Stanford Computational Policy Lab, to sweep names, crime locations and race from the police reports that prosecutors review before deciding whether to bring charges.

In a criminal justice system beset by racial bias, the thinking goes, prosecutors may inadvertently be swayed by a suspect's race. They might be prone to see a shoplifting report filed against a white suspect as a sign of overzealous policing, but a similar report against a black suspect as an indication of a crime wave.

Or vice versa. If racial data is deleted from the report _ and if prosecutors are unable to glean that information from the suspect's name, hair or eye color, or from the neighborhood where the crime is alleged to have occurred _ couldn't the justice system become more even-handed?

It is an intriguing idea worth testing. It's also important to keep in mind the many earlier........

© The Korea Times