The Commission’s investigation will seek collection of data on all states that have enacted SYG laws. Ata minimum, such baseline data from each SYG state will seek information such as:
The number of state investigations, charges, prosecutions, and judicial decisions involving claimsof self-defense homicide from 2000 to the present;
The race of victims, perpetrators, and justice system participants (investigators, prosecutors, juries, and judges ) in the investigation, charging, prosecution, and judicial decision stages of allcases involving claims of self-defense homicide from 2000 to the present;
The procedures, legally-mandated or in common practice, state investigations, charges, prosecutions, and judicial decisions involving claims of self-defense homicide from 2000 to the present. Procedural changes in the handling of self-defense homicides upon the adoption of SYGlaws should also be described
Public allegations of racial bias in cases involving SYG laws raised from any source.
Any public reports or analyses concerning racial bias in the operation of that state’s SYG laws.This baseline work will be conducted through documents, the assistance of the agency’s state advisorycommittees, and research conducted from the national office. No staff travel from headquarters isexpected to gather this baseline data. Staff will also select at least 3 diverse “focus states,” including Florida, to seek more in-depth data on possible racial bias in the operation of SYG laws in the last year for which data is available. In thesefocus states, agency staff will travel to the state and conduct interviews of police, prosecutors, and othersinvolved in particular investigations, charging decisions, prosecutions, and judicial decisions to providea more nuanced, first-hand account of whether and how race bias may have played a role. Because thenumber of justifiable homicide cases in most states is low in a given year (fewer than 20), such detailedstate and case-specific analysis should be possible. Finally, staff will conduct a review of relevant legal and social science research on this topic, includingways that stereotypes and biases may affect the perception of threat and split-second decision making.Where appropriate, interviews of experts may be conducted to understand whether and how racial biasmay interact with SYG laws.Throughout all its work, this investigation will give distinct attention to four stages where racial biasmight enter into the operation of SYG laws:
Evidence of racial bias in the perceptions and motivations of perpetrators.
How manySYG cases involve cross-racial perpetrators and victims? What is the effect of racial bias,conscious or unconscious, on the perception of threat and lethal split-second reactions that aretypically involved in cases of self defense?2-3.
Evidence of racial bias in law enforcement investigation and prosecution
. How do the legalconstraints of SYG laws change police investigation techniques? What police training isthere on SYG? How do different variants of SYG laws, including non-statutory instances of Castle doctrine in state case law, affect the number and type of prosecutions? Are more plea bargains offered to one race that lower charges? How does legal representation affect the rateat which defenses of justifiable homicide are raised?
Evidence of racial bias in jury outcomes.
How do citizens of different backgrounds reviewSYG cases? Are there disparities evident in jury outcomes in SYG cases?From this data, staff will complete a draft report for Commissioner approval that provides statistical andlegal analysis of any evidence of racial bias in the operation of SYG laws. The draft report will also citeany examples discovered in the course of the investigation of any ways to implement SYG laws thatreduce or increase the likelihood of improper racial bias. This draft report shall be completed within oneyear of adoption of this concept paper.