Newsmaker: David A. Harris
David A. Harris
Residence: Point Breeze
Family: Wife, Rebecca; children, Alicia and Sam
Education: B.A. in political science, Northwestern University, 1980; J.D., Yale University, 1983; L.L.M., Georgetown Law, 1988.
Notable: This month, Harris addressed prosecutors at a White House conference to talk about subconscious racial biases — deep-seeded racial stereotypes that can subconsciously affect how prosecutors handle cases, even if they don't hold racist beliefs. Prosecutors can consciously double-check their decisions on an individual level and use data to track cases on an office-wide level to ensure those biases don't affect cases, and gradually eliminate them, he said.
Background: Harris has long studied how search-and-seizure laws affect police behavior, and has worked with hundreds of police departments across the country and a few international departments on issues of racial profiling. He teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence and a seminar on the HBO series “The Wire” at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Quote: “It's not about your personal beliefs; it's about how stereotypes act on a subconscious level to affect behavior. What to charge, whether to offer a plea, what sentence to recommend ... all can be affected by the unconscious biases we all have if we're not careful, thoughtful and collecting data.”
— Matthew Santoni