Racial and Ethnic Disparities Throughout the Criminal Legal System

Brief

Racial and Ethnic Disparities Throughout the Criminal Legal System

A Result of Racist Policies and Discretionary Practices
August 18, 2021

Abstract

Throughout history, the US has created laws that have discriminated against people of color, and as a result, examples of differential treatment on the basis of race can be found throughout the criminal legal system. This brief aims to provide a comprehensive overview of racial disparities at each level of the criminal legal system and highlight how each decision point of the system impacts the next, resulting in continuous, disparate outcomes for people of color. Our findings suggest that in order to address these disparities, researchers must approach their work with appropriately contextualized research questions and an understanding of the language they use. Additionally, researchers should frame reported statistics with the appropriate historical setting, and actively approach research through community engaged methods.

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