There Are Only Two Black Male Prosecutors For All Of Long Island


In 1998, Donald Rollock was one in every of two Black males working within the Nassau County District Lawyer’s workplace. His white supervisor assigned him the case of a mom abusing her teenage daughter.

“It was a 16-year-old lady and she or he was having intercourse with some man, an older man,” Rollock recalled in an interview. “Mother goes there, finds her, beats her with a belt, then takes her to the hospital and made certain that she’s not pregnant.”

He interviewed the mom, after which the daughter. They had been Black, and Rollock determined it wasn’t abuse.

“There are quite a lot of white people who do not assume that you have to be beating your children. Quite a lot of different cultures, Black cultures, consider that you just wish to set your children straight.”

Rollock went backwards and forwards about this together with his supervisor.

“I used to be like, I refuse to prosecute an individual for a D felony assault when that particular person can go to jail for seven years, when that particular person the truth is was disciplining their youngster.”

Lastly, the supervisor agreed with continuing on a lesser cost. However the expertise stayed with Rollock. 

He resigned from the DA’s workplace in 2003, leaving Nassau County with only a single Black male assistant district legal professional. Now he works on the opposite aspect of the courtroom as a legal protection lawyer opposing prosecutors who don’t mirror the neighborhood.

“It is a large concern of mine, it has been for a few years. As a result of I’ve observed that there are hardly any male Blacks,” he mentioned.

OCA stats showing how white defendants plead guilty more than Black defendants but Black defendents are imprisoned at a higher rate


Black defendants plead responsible at decrease charges than white, however are imprisoned extra typically—even for a similar crime.

NY’s Workplace of Court docket Administration.

In accordance with statistics collected by the courts, greater than a 3rd of all legal defendants on Lengthy Island are Black males. Nonetheless, there are solely two Black male assistant district attorneys for all of Lengthy Island.

Demographic information obtained by way of interviews and freedom of knowledge requests reveals that Lengthy Island’s justice system is overwhelmingly white prosecutors making an attempt Black males. 

Nassau and its neighbor to the east, Suffolk, are the 2 most populous counties within the state outdoors of New York Metropolis, with over 7 million residents. About 10% of residents on Lengthy Island are Black, but solely 6% of prosecutors for Nassau County are Black. In Suffolk, it’s solely 3%. 

A chart showing the low numbers of Black, especially Black male, prosecutors in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, especially compared to the five boroughs of nYC


Despite the fact that a 3rd of legal defendants on Lengthy Island there are solely two Black ADAs.

Statistics gathered by way of FOIL requests and interviews.

The issue is most pronounced for males since extra males come by way of the system as defendants, but fewer Black males select to grow to be prosecutors. In Suffolk and Nassau, simply 0.5% of prosecutors are Black males, in comparison with Manhattan and Queens every at 4%, Bronx at 3%, and and Brooklyn at 10%.

“Our first concern is getting folks within the door. So altering the notion that Nassau is racist,” mentioned April Montgomery, an ADA in Nassau and the workplace’s director of recruitment.

Statistics showing that only about 2% of Black males are in first year law classes of downstate law schools


ABA Part of Authorized Training and Admissions to the Bar.

When she goes out recruiting, her message is targeted on issues aside from prosecution.

“It isn’t simply arresting folks and throwing them in jail. These are neighborhood companies that we have now,” she mentioned. “These are options to incarceration, these are companies we have now in order that you don’t grow to be criminally concerned.”

Nonetheless, her pitch is at odds with the statistics. 

In accordance with New York’s Workplace of Court docket Administration, white defendants on Lengthy Island usually tend to get fines whereas Black defendants usually tend to get jail time—even for a similar crime, and although white defendants plead responsible at larger charges.

For instance, during the last six months, half of Black and Hispanic folks accused of petit larceny got jail. No white folks charged for these similar small thefts had been imprisoned. As an alternative they bought fines, probation, or no sanction in any respect. 

General on Lengthy Island, roughly half of white defendants plead responsible to crimes, however solely 1 / 4 are given jail sentences. Black defendants plead responsible much less typically (45% of the time) however are imprisoned extra (38% of the time). 

“These statistics point out potential implicit bias on a part of your entire system,” mentioned Larry Flowers, president of the Suffolk County Prison Bar Affiliation.

The Suffolk County District Lawyer’s workplace mentioned it’s conscious of the disparity and it’s one thing they’re investigating. In an interview, Leslie Anderson, govt ADA in Suffolk, mentioned she is lacking key information points–such as legal history–to make a agency dedication of bias.

“I do not know that having extra Black males within the workplace would change that, however it definitely could be an fascinating research,” she mentioned.

Anderson says she is aggressively making an attempt to rent extra Black males. 2020 was the workplace’s most aggressive push which included reaching out by way of Black bar associations, Black legislation faculty associations, and traditionally Black faculties, 

“We drew in someplace within the neighborhood of 400 candidates from 80 legislation colleges across the nation, and but and nonetheless,” Anderson mentioned, “We’re simply not getting Black males to use.”

Partially, Anderson blames a small variety of Black males graduating from native legislation colleges. 

In accordance with information collected by the American Bar Affiliation, downstate legislation colleges do graduate Black JDs at charges decrease than inhabitants averages. Nonetheless, Black males are coming into legislation faculty at charges 5 instances what Nassau and Suffolk DAs are capable of recruit.

Right here each Suffolk’s Leslie Anderson and Nassau’s April Montgomery blame Black mistrust within the justice system.

Anderson mentioned, “The priority is that they’re going to be seen as type of sellouts locally in the event that they do it.”

Photograph of Roche, in a suit, sitting with Cole. also in a suit—both are wearing masks


Olivier Roche and his intern, Vanessa Cole. Cole mentioned she is going to most certainly not grow to be a prosecutor. “As somebody who’s of multiracial background, I’ve seen each side of the legislation,” she mentioned. “It looks like some ADAs are going to take the cop’s phrases over the phrase of the suspect.”

Charles Lane

Olivier Roche, who was additionally the one Black male ADA in Suffolk from 2009 to 2012 earlier than switching to protection, faults DA workplaces for perpetuating this mentality.

“It is horrible, for those who begin off with that concept in your head, how real will your efforts be?”

He suggests quite than making an attempt to vary the methods Black folks see prosecutors, these workplaces ought to change the methods they impression Black lives. 

In an interview, Roche supplied completely different insurance policies on medicine, gangs, decreased concentrate on getting convictions, higher plea offers, or extra of an emphasis on rehabilitation. 

“We might reimagine the company to do higher,” he mentioned. “We will not be complacent.”