Once little-known outside of Jacksonville, Corey is now familiar to millions. She is the prosecutor who charged George Zimmerman.
With cases like those of Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander grabbing the spotlight, experts say it is essential to systematically track Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
“Given this extension in effect of the power to kill, that’s an issue that should be monitored very carefully to see who is using it and who is abusing it,” said Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University.
No one knows for sure how often Stand Your Ground is used as a defense or what racial and ethnic groups are most affected by it. That’s because no one keeps track of race or ethnicity in those cases.
For example, about 7 percent of the cases identified by the Times had a Hispanic victim or defendant. But the true percentage is probably far higher because police and arrest records generally classify people as “white” or “black,” not Hispanic.
Florida and many other states already keep track of so-called “justifiable” homicides, including the race of defendant and victim. There is no Stand Your Ground designation, however.
The federal government compiles more-detailed race statistics on crime, largely to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected under civil rights and hate-crime laws.
“It’s to monitor whether there are abuses in particular areas and by particular agencies,” said George Kirkham, a professor emeritus at Florida State University who also has worked as a police officer.
Nweze, of the NAACP, agreed it would be a good idea to track Stand Your Ground cases, but not without also tracking every other type of criminal case.
“Stand Your Ground is just one law,” she said, adding that “there’s a whole litany of stuff that goes on” that can have a disproportionate impact on black defendants and black victims.
Jeffrey Rosky, a University of Central Florida criminologist, agreed that there are racial disparities in the administration of justice.
“As for policymakers, this is where they need to have their judgment brought in as to what’s too much,” Rosky said. “Any kind of disparity is too much to a certain degree.”
Tampa Bay Times researchers Caryn Baird, Carolyn Edds and Natalie Watson contributed to this report.