This February 2015 briefing paper published by The Sentencing Project largely focuses on the experiences of African Americans / Blacks, Latinos / Hispanics, and whites in the justice system. These are the populations for whom the most research and data are available. Nationwide data and research that include Asian Americans and American Indians are more limited: reports often aggregate these groups into one category, labeled “other.” Existing research suggests that many of the trends described in this report hold for American Indians, for sub-groups of Asian Americans, and for other communities of color.
This briefing paper is organized as follows: Section I examines racial disparities in policing in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Section II compares these patterns with nationwide trends and relates them to disparate outcomes at later stages of the criminal justice process. Section III examines the causes of Blacks’ and Latinos’ overrepresentation in the justice system, including differential crime rates and the four sources of inequities in the justice system. Section IV presents best practices from around the country for reducing racial disparities created by these four sources. Section V explores strategies for implementation and evaluation. Section VI concludes by reviewing recent achievements and highlighting the need for further reforms.