The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Racial Disparities

Feature Stories


Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System - National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
A critically important and inclusive examination of the profound racial and ethnic disparities in America’s criminal justice system, and concrete ways to overcome them. This conference report prepared by Consultant Tanya E. Coke is based upon a multi-day, open and frank discussion among a distinguished group of criminal justice experts – prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, scholars, community leaders, and formerly incarcerated advocates. This three-day convening was held October 17-19, 2012, at the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s historic Home of Law and was co-sponsored by the following organizations: the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, and the New York County Lawyers’ Association

The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs - The Sentencing Project - 4/14/09.
For the first time in 25 years, since the inception of the "war on drugs," the number of African Americans incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses has declined substantially. The report finds a 21.6% drop in the number of blacks incarcerated for a drug offense, a decline of 31,000 people during the period 1999-2005.

Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: A Manual for Practitioners and Policymakers - The Sentencing Project - 09/25/08
The publication provides insight into how racial disparities develop in the criminal justice system, and workable solutions to address and reduce disparities. The manual provides strategies for addressing disparities at each stage of the system, as well as 17 “best practices” illustrating practitioner approaches for enhancing fairness.

Intended and Unintended Consequences: State Racial Disparities in Imprisonment (pdf) - Fact Sheet - The Sentencing Project - 10/19/05.
While it is well known that national rates of imprisonment for African Americans are higher than for other groups, substantial variation exists among the states in the degree of racial disparity in the use of incarceration. In addition, the increasing rate of incarceration of African American males is now creating a variety of unintended consequences of great concern.

Racial Disparity in Sentencing: A Review of the Literature (pdf) - The Sentencing Project - 01/01/05.
The intersection of racial dynamics with the criminal justice system is one of longstanding duration. In earlier times, courtrooms in many jurisdictions were comprised of all white decision-makers. Today, there is more diversity of leadership in the court system, but race still plays a critical role in many criminal justice outcomes. This ranges from disparate traffic stops due to racial profiling to imposition of the death penalty based on the race of victim and/or offender. A particularly important aspect of the role of race in the justice system relates to sentencing, because the prospect of a racially discriminatory process violates the ideals of equal treatment under law under which the system is premised.

Schools and Prisons: Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education (pdf) - The Sentencing Project - 06/01/04
The nation is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that ordered the desegregation of public education. The decision in many ways marked the beginnings of the modern day Civil Rights Movement and during the ensuing half century there has been significant social and economic progress in American society. Much work needs to be done, but many institutions in society have become more diverse and responsive to the needs of African Americans and other people of color. However, during this period no institution has changed more than the criminal justice system, and in ways that have had profound effects on the African American community. The unprecedented growth in the prison system has produced record numbers of Americans in prison and jail, and has had a disproportionate effect on African Americans.

Latinos and the Texas Criminal Justice System - NCLR - 07/16/03.
This brief analyzes the most recent data related to Latinos and the criminal justice system in Texas, and underscores the disparities that exist between Latinos and others in terms of incarceration, release rates, and other issues. The analysis indicates the need for alternatives to incarceration, such as substance abuse treatment and other approaches, to reduce the growth among Latinos in the prison population in Texas.

Cellblocks or Classrooms?: The Funding of Higher Education and Corrections and Its Impact on African American Men (pdf) - Justice Policy Institute - 08/28/02.
This report analyzes the changes in state spending from the general fund on higher education and corrections from 1985 to 2000, and the change in African American male participation in higher education and their representation in the nation's prisons and jails.

Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: A Manual for Practitioners and Policymakers (pdf) - The Sentencing Project - 10/01/00.
As we enter the new millennium, America has become the most racially diverse and wealthiest nation on the planet. Our gains in economic prosperity, however, are not uniformly shared across society as whole segments of American communities have become marginalized - seemingly unimportant to society at large. One fundamental aspect of this marginalization is the disparate treatment of persons of color which occurs incrementally across the entire spectrum of America's criminal justice system.

Justice on Trial: Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System - Leadership Conference on Civil Rights - 05/01/00.
America's minorities now enjoy greater economic and educational opportunities than at any time in our history. While it certainly cannot be said that the United States has achieved complete equality in these areas, we continue to make slow but steady progress on the path toward that goal. But in one critical arena - criminal justice - racial inequality is growing, not receding. Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a manner that is massively and pervasively biased. The injustices of the criminal justice system threaten to render irrelevant fifty years of hard-fought civil rights progress.

The Crisis of the Young African American Male and the Criminal Justice System (pdf) - The Sentencing Project - 08/15/99.
This paper will explore the current status of African American males within the criminal justice system and consider projections for the future should current policies continue. It will also assess the factors that have created such high levels of criminal justice control. Finally, it will provide a set of recommendations for public policy that would help to alleviate the disastrous circumstances that currently prevail while having a more constructive impact on public safety.

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