How to Eliminate Inequality in the Justice System


A new report by The Sentencing Project highlights four features of the nation's justice system that exacerbate the system's underlying racial inequality, and reform taken in jurisdictions around the country that have addressed these disparities.

The report points to “race-neutral” policies that exacerbate racial inequality; racial bias in the use of discretion; practices that disadvantage low-income individuals, and policies, such as collateral consequences for those with criminal records, which exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities.

“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,” the report's authors write.

The report also points to jurisdictions around the country that have taken effective steps to mitigate racial inequalities in the justice system. Among the examples in the report: Indiana amended sentencing laws tied to “drug-free zones,” which imposed harsh penalties on communities in Indianapolis that are more than 75 percent African American; Multnomah County, Ore., revised its juvenile detention risk assessment instrument to remove bias; Berks County, Pa., reduced the number of youth in secure detention by 67 percent, and the Milwaukee County prosecutor's office instituted case oversight that emphasized judicial diversion for those facing drug possession charges.

Read the full report HERE.

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