Acknowledging Bias in the Criminal Justice System


Mass incarceration reform efforts rarely formally address racial disparities within the criminal justice system, according to a new report from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group.

The report outlines systematic racial disparities in the criminal justice system and proposes strategies to address them. It was created as a result of a series of “listening sessions” on race and imprisonment.

The sessions included dozens of practitioners, experts, academics, national law firm representatives, and formerly incarcerated individuals, who gathered “to discuss the state of mass incarceration, reform efforts, and the role of national law firms in this movement.”

The discussions show near unanimous agreement that there is bias against black and Hispanic defendants in the criminal justice system.

“However, this fact is often absent in public discourse and almost never formally addressed in reform efforts. This is particularly troubling since racial disparities in incarceration are often the result of implicit racial bias and structural or institutionalized racial discrimination, deep-rooted species of dysfunction which can only begin to be addressed by the acknowledgement and recognition that it exists,” the report's authors wrote.

The report also noted that there is a “huge gap” in the legal effort to change mass incarceration.

“Simply put, very few organizations in the nation have the resources, expertise, and will to fight mass incarceration in the courts,” the authors wrote.

Read the full report HERE.

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