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Extreme Gerrymanderers

February 22, 2022

Gerrymandering is the intentional practice of manipulating the boundaries of congressional districts to provide an unfair advantage for a specific party or group. The practice has increasingly created barriers to representative democracy and allows politicians to select their voters, rather than allowing voters to pick their politicians.New maps that create the boundaries between congressional districts are drawn every 10 years, following each decennial census. In the wake of the 2020 Census, state legislators crafted a number of hyperpartisan and discriminatory gerrymanders. This report highlights a dozen of the worst.

Democracy Defended: Findings from the 2020 Election

September 2, 2021

Despite an unprecedented series of challenges—a global pandemic, extreme weather, rampant misinformation, voter intimidation, and coordinated efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters of color—Black voters turned out in record numbers in 2020 to have their voices heard in one of our nation's most important election years.But let's be clear. The election did not go smoothly. Record turnout nationally and in many states was only possible thanks to a Herculean effort on the part of many non-profit organizations and many thousands of individuals and volunteers, as well as the enormous sums of money spent on election security and countering misinformation.

The Power and Problem of Criminal Justice Data: A Twenty-State Review

June 30, 2021

Despite accounting for a substantial portion of local, state, and federal budgets, our criminal justice institutions are among the least measured systems in our country. In an effort to bring transparency to this sector, MFJ has collected, standardized, and made public 20 states' worth of criminal justice data.The purpose of this report is to share what we have learned through this effort, including: (a) what we cannot see when data are missing, and (b) the value that data can provide when they are available and comparable. In particular, we identify patterns around the following:There is a substantial lack of data around pretrial detention and release decision-making, as well as individual demographics (particularly indigence).New data privacy laws are also making it needlessly difficult to obtain certain data. This poses challenges to understanding how individuals experience the system in cases that do not result in conviction.There is great variation in how counties dispose of and sentence nonviolent cases; how financial obligations are imposed on individuals; and the collateral consequences that individuals face when convicted.Across many of these findings, where demographics are available, we have an opportunity to identify and respond to significant disparities in group outcomes.This report challenges stakeholders and policymakers to dig deeper into these patterns and missing data. It also implores policymakers and legislators to improve criminal justice data infrastructure to ensure a more transparent, fair, and equitable implementation of justice.

Overcoming the Unprecedented: Southern Voters’ Battle Against Voter Suppression, Intimidation, and a Virus

March 16, 2021

This report describes the 2020 elections in five Southern states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi—with a particular emphasis on election administration problems; voter suppression; the efforts of voting rights organizations to mobilize voters and protect their votes; and the actions of extremists who sought to intimidate voters and spread disinformation.As this report shows, it is abundantly clear that our electoral system needs repair. Numerous states have erected new barriers to voting since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 gutted a critical component of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many also cling to Jim Crow-era laws, such as felony disenfranchisement, that were specifically designed to suppress the Black vote—or they refuse to enact commonsense changes that would make voting easier and accessible to all citizens. At the same time, some states maintain archaic administrative systems that are woefully inadequate to meet the needs of voters today and ensure fair elections.This report provides a blueprint for reforming the electoral system. The Biden administration and Congress must act quickly to shore up the stability of the electoral process and put our democracy on a firmer footing. Passage of federal laws, including those that strengthen the Voting Rights Act, are necessary steps forward on the path to reform—toward ensuring that all Americans have easy and equal access to the ballot box.

Black Funding Denied: Community Foundation Support for Black Communities

August 1, 2020

In light of the national uprising sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (and building on other recent tragic movement moments going back to the 2014 murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri), NCRP is analyzing grantmaking by community foundations across the country to find out exactly how much they are – or are not – investing in Black communities.We started by looking at the latest available grantmaking data (2016-2018) of 25 community foundations (CFs) – from Los Angeles to New Orleans to New York City to St. Paul. These foundations represent a cross section of some of the country's largest community foundations as well as foundations in communities where NCRP has Black-led nonprofit allies.

Learning to Build Police-Community Trust Implementation Assessment Findings from the Evaluation of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice

September 8, 2019

This research report documents the training, policy development, and reconciliation activities of the six cities that took part in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, an effort to promote more equitable, just, and respectful policing practices and improve relationships and trust between law enforcement and community members. We found that the training component of the Initiative, which exposed officers to concepts of procedural justice and implicit bias, was implemented as intended and was well received by officers. In addition, the reconciliation framework used to improve relationships between police and communities was powerful and impactful, leading police departments to make changes to their policies to build trust and institutionalize improvements to practices. We also observed that local contexts affected the implementation process, with factors such as police leadership stability and the dynamics underlying relations between police, political leadership, and the community facilitating or impeding progress.

Profiles in Parole Release and Revocation: Examining the Legal Framework in the United States, Alabama

November 15, 2018

Alabama established a sentencing commission in 2000, and has utilized advisory sentencing standards in felonycases since 2006. In 2013, the Alabama Sentencing Standards grew to include presumptive standards for non-violent offenses. Alabama has a "truth in sentencing" statute that does not take effect until 2020 and will require the court to pronounce a minimum term and an extended term (120% of the minimum term) and mandates post-release supervision. Currently, however, offenders are sentenced to a definite term of imprisonment and may be released on parole, if eligible.

Under Pressure: How fines and fees hurt people, undermine public safety, and drive Alabama’s racial wealth divide

October 10, 2018

Each year, Alabama's municipal, district, and circuit courts assess millions of dollars in court costs, fines, fees, and restitution. Most of this money is sent to the state General Fund, government agencies, county and municipal funds, and used to finance pet projects.This hidden tax is disproportionately borne by poor people – particularly by poor people of color. In Alabama, African Americans are arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at higher rates than white people. For example, while African Americans and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rate, African Americans are over four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Alabama. This report is an eort to examine, in detail, the collateral consequences of Alabama's court debt system and explore the ways in which it undermines public safety and drives the state's racial wealth divide. It is a product of our work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Southern Partnership to Reduce Debt, which is developing strategies to lessen the impact of criminal and civil judicial fines and fees, as well as medical fees and high-cost consumer products, on communities of color.We surveyed 980 Alabamians about their experience with court debt, asking how court costs, fines, and fees had affected their daily lives. Study participants included 879 "justice-involved" individuals who were paying their own court debt for offenses ranging from traffic violations to felonies, and 101 people who did not themselves owe court debt but were paying debt for other people. We analyzed results for the two groups separately and conducted a further analysis of the 810 justice-involved individuals who had also helped others pay off their debt.

Employment Equity: The Path to a More Competitive Alabama

April 5, 2018

Alabama's future competitiveness depends on the participation and inclusion of all of our residents,especially those who are locked out of the economy. Employment equity—when everyone who wants to work has a good job that pays family-supporting wages—is the path forward. By addressing lingering societal barriers such as adequate funding for public transit that connects residents to quality jobs, and linking more Alabamians to career pathways in growing industries, we can reduce economic insecurity, meet employers' needs for talent, and bolster economic growth, building a prosperous Alabama for all.

Advancing Employment Equity in Alabama

April 3, 2018

This report, Advancing Employment Equity in Alabama, offers a framework to guide policymakers as they consider how to best connect residents to good jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and remove the barriers that have held back far too many for far too long. The Alabama Asset Building Coalition is prepared to be a partner in this effort and further our mission of building an economic foundation that allows underserved Alabamians to reach their highest potential and secure their financial future.

Retrospective: Alzheimer’s Disease Research: An Overview of 1998-2015 Grantmaking

November 1, 2017

In 2020, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation concluded operations, following 64 years of grantmaking and a 2009 decision to spend down its assets. During the 12-year spend-down period, as the Foundation made and implemented decisions about its final initiatives and areas of emphasis, a number of lines of work were concluded. The salient aspects of many of these efforts were documented by the Foundation through retrospectives, which were originally intended to support internal learning but were also made public. This retrospective summarizes the Foundation's Alzheimer's disease grantmaking, which consisted of support for the work of 15 scientists, seven multidisciplinary research centers, and a regional scientific symposium beginning in 1998. Final payments on grants awarded were made in 2015. Overall, the Foundation invested $19.2 million, making 47 grants to seven organizations across five states (California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Alabama). 

Health Disparities in Appalachia: The First In A Series Exploring Health Issues in Appalachia

August 1, 2017

Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots is an innovative research initiative sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and administered by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. This multi-part health research project will, in successive reports: measure population health and document disparities in health outcomes in the Appalachian Region compared to the United States as a whole, as well as disparities within the Appalachian Region; identify "Bright Spots," or communities that exhibit better-than-expected health outcomes given their resources; and explore a sample of the Bright Spot communities through in-depth, field-based case studies. Taken together, these reports will provide a basis for understanding and addressing health issues in the Appalachian Region. This research initiative aims to identify factors that support a Culture of Health in Appalachian communities and explore replicable activities, programs, or policies that encourage better-than-expected health outcomes that could translate into actions that other communities can replicate.This first report, Health Disparities in Appalachia, measures population health in Appalachia and documents disparities between the Region and the nation as a whole, as well as disparities within the Appalachian Region.