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Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequity in the Criminal Justice System

February 1, 2015

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.

Incorporating Racial Equity into Criminal Justice Reform

October 1, 2014

There are few areas of American society where racial disparities are as profound and as troubling as in the criminal justice system. In fact, racial perceptions of crime and race-influenced policy development have been intimately tied to the development of mass incarceration. Yet there is growing evidence that the high rate of minority imprisonment is excessive for public safety goals and damaging for family and community structures in high-incarceration neighborhoods.This briefing paper provides an overview of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a framework for developing and implementing remedies for these disparities. We first describe the rationale for incorporating racial equity as a goal of an overall criminal justice reform strategy. We then document trends in racial disparity and assess the various causal factors that have produced these outcomes. Next, we identify a selection of best practices for addressing disparities, along with recommendations for implementation. Finally, we provide a guide for establishing rigorous metrics for success

Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies

September 3, 2014

To guide and give greater momentum to recent calls for reform, this report examines a key driving force of criminal justice outcomes: racial perceptions of crime. A complex set of factors contributes to the severity and selectivity of punishment in the United States, including public concern about crime and racial differences in crime rates. This report synthesizes two decades of research establishing that skewed racial perceptions of crime – particularly, white Americans' strong associations of crime with racial minorities – have bolstered harsh and biased criminal justice policies.