Boulder County District Attorney’s Office Awarded Grant to Combat Implicit Bias

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Boulder County District Attorney team (Photo from DA Facebook)

No matter how hard humans work to be unbiased, implicit bias still remains.

Implicit bias “refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection,” according to an Implicit Bias Review done by the Ohio State University.

The review continues to say that through training the issue of implicit bias can be addressed and gradually unlearned.

Boulder County District Attorney, Michael Dougherty, is passionate to have his office be as unbiased in seeking justice as humanly possible.

As such, he and his team sought out and were awarded a $7,500 grant for additional training to combat implicit bias in the Boulder County District Attorney’s office.

“When I took office last March, I had provided to the staff a list of our priorities for the future. One of those priorities was implicit bias training for the staff. I have always believed that prosecutors should be trained on implicit bias, as should law enforcement. I think it is easier for us to talk about actual overt bias and harder for us to recognize implicit bias,” says Dougherty.

This particular award was a partnership between the Restorative Justice and Diversion Program in Boulder County District Attorney’s office and the Supreme Court Administrator’s office.

Dougherty expects the training to commence in June 2019.

When asked how bias plays a role in the Boulder County Judicial System, Dougherty replied, “in terms of the district attorney’s office, I have no evidence of any bias in any one of our cases. I have the utmost faith in the integrity of the staff. But with implicit bias, again, that is something that we are unconscious of, so it would be hard for me to say that no one on staff has any implicit bias. I think it is human for us to have some biases within us. I’ve never had a single case that I thought was subject to bias but it would also be naive of me not to recognize that bias exists in all of us and in the criminal justice system.”

With this training, Dougherty hopes to aid his staff in being able to treat each person’s case with the utmost fairness and without impact from any undo influence.

The DA’s office plans to pursue grant funding for implicit bias training for years to come. Additionally, Dougherty hopes to partner with Boulder County and local law enforcement to find ways to fund implicit bias training throughout Boulder County.


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