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Justice for All? Challenging Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

June 24, 2011
Americans should be troubled by the extent incarceration has become a fixture in the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. Beyond the socioeconomic consequences, racial disparities in the criminal justice system erode trust in the overall justice system.

There are many indicators of the profound impact of disproportionate rates of incarceration in communities of color. Perhaps the most stark among these are the data generated by the U.S. Department of Justice that project that if current trends continue, one of every three black males born today will go to prison in his lifetime, as will one of every six Latino males.

(Rates of incarceration for women overall are lower than for men, but similar racial/ethnic disparities pertain.) Regardless of what one views as the causes of this situation, it should be deeply disturbing to all Americans that these figures represent the future for a generation of children growing up today.

This article, published by the American Bar Association, will first present an overview of the factors that contribute to racial disparity in the justice system, and then it will recommend changes in policy and practice that could reduce these disparities without compromising public safety.

In order to develop policies and practices to reduce unwarranted racial disparities in the criminal justice system, it is necessary to assess the factors that have produced the current record levels of incarceration and racial/ethnic disparity.

To read the article, download the PDF below.

 
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