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Title: Black lives matter: Eliminating racial inequity in the criminal justice system
Contributors: Ghandnoosh, Nazgol
Keywords: Discrimination in criminal justice administration—United States
Racism—Political aspects—United States
Race discrimination—United States
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: The Sentencing Project
Place of Publication: Washington, D.C.
Description: The criminal justice system’s high volume of contact with people of color is a major cause of African Americans’ disproportionate rate of fatal police encounters, as well as of broader perceptions of injustice in many communities. This briefing paper identifies four key features of the justice system that contribute to its disparate racial impact, and presents recent best practices for targeting these inequities drawn from adult and juvenile justice systems around the country. In many cases, these practices have produced demonstrable results. Policing is by no means the only stage of the justice system that produces racial disparity. Disadvantage accumulating at each step of the process contributes to blacks and Latinos comprising 56% of the incarcerated population, yet only 30% of the U.S. population. The roots of this disparity precede criminal justice contact: conditions of socioeconomic inequality contribute to higher rates of some violent and property crimes among people of color.This briefing paper is organized as follows: Section I examines racial disparities in policing in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Section II compares these patterns with nationwide trends and relates them to disparate outcomes at later stages of the criminal justice process. Section III examines the causes of blacks’ and Latinos’ overrepresentation in the justice system, including differential crime rates and the four sources of inequities in the justice system. Section IV presents best practices from around the country for reducing racial disparities created by these four sources. Section V explores strategies for implementation and evaluation. Section VI concludes by reviewing recent achievements and highlighting the need for further reforms.
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