The racial disparity of arrests for black to white offenders in Minnesota is about 10 to 1. In 2001, the equivalent of one out of four black Minneapolis residents were either arrested or cited for such low-level offenses as disorderly conduct, loitering, or lurking. For white offenders, the number was one in 60. Those were among findings in a new report from the Minnesota Council on Crime and Justice, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The report was discussed last week at a meeting that drew more than 700 participants, from ex-cons to Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.
One issue discussed at the session was the disproportionate frequency of kids of color cited, suspended, or expelled for behavioral incidents at schools, primarily in inner-city neighborhoods. The report found that inner-city schools are a “significant feeder into the juvenile system for offenses committed on school property, such as disorderly conduct.” The report also said that the process “for transitioning ex-offenders does not meet their immediate needs, thereby undermining public safety.” It concluded that “racial bias in the justice system lies primarily in institutional policies and practices, rather than individual racism. It is time to take action. The truth is known. The racial disparity in Minnesota’s justice system is one of the worst in the nation. While this disparity has many causes, racial bias is a significant contributor. We must do better.”