A new study has found that black and Latino defendants in Manhattan are more likely to be detained pre-trial than white defendants, and that black defendants are more likely than white to be sentenced to imprisonment.

The study was conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice using numbers provided by the Manhattan DA's office. Using data from 200,000 resolved cases from the years 2010-2011, researchers analyzed crimes ranging in severity from misdemeanors and violations to burglaries and domestic violence.

The purpose of the study, which is one of the biggest of its kind and had the DA's full cooperation, was to examine the potential racial biases held by prosecutors in the justice system. "The shame is not in finding that we have unconscious biases or that our current policies have a disproportionate racial impact— the shame lies in refusing to ask the questions and correct the problems," said Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance in a statement.

When it came to plea bargaining, the study found that black and Latino defendants were "more likely than white or Asian defendants to receive a sentence offer including a jail or prison term as opposed to non-custodial offers such as community service, probation, or fines."

However, the study also found that black and Latino defendants charged with misdemeanor drug offenses were more likely to have their cases dismissed than similarly situated white defendants.

The report states that this finding raised "the question of whether having higher dismissal rates for defendants of color is an indicator of leniency or whether they might simply serve as a mechanism for declining to prosecute cases whose viability is in doubt or that could have been rejected at screening."

Asian defendants fared best in the study, showing the more favorable outcomes across the board; they are less likely to be detained, receive custodial offers, or be incarcerated.

In an interview with the Times, Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU, said the study "raised troubling questions about the police policy in New York of making many arrests for minor offenses in high-crime neighborhoods, under the so-called broken windows theory. That policy has resulted in many black and Hispanic city residents with long arrest records, making it harder for them to make bail and receive a non-jail sentence."