Earlier this month, Oregon became only the third state in the United States to adopt a bill mandating “racial impact statements” for proposed changes to prison sentencing laws, reports the Atlantic. The concept borrows from better-known fiscal and environmental impact statements, analyses designed to anticipate how policies or development projects might affect a local budget or ecosystem.
Criminal justice policy often disproportionately affects minorities, and in ways that we fail to thoughtfully consider ahead of time. One in every nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 is incarcerated in the U.S., with rippling consequences. In Oregon, blacks are six times as likely as whites to end up in prison. Iowa and Connecticut also mandate racial impact statements.