Racial / Ethnic Inequalities in the Criminal Justice System: What Can I Do?

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Racial / Ethnic Inequalities in the Criminal Justice System: What Can I Do?

  1. 1. <ul><li>Racial / Ethnic Inequalities in the Criminal Justice System: </li></ul><ul><li>What Can I Do? </li></ul>The Center for Health and Justice at TASC February 28, 2011  UIC Student Center East Support provided by The Chicago Community Trust
  2. 2. Welcome & Warm-Up Rev. Tommie Johnson George Williams
  3. 3. Center for Health & Justice at TASC <ul><li>MISSION </li></ul><ul><li>For 35 years TASC has offered life-changing opportunities for people whose substance abuse or mental health problems have put them at risk for chronic involvement with the justice system </li></ul><ul><li>Through services and public policy, we advocate effective and cost-saving solutions that allow people, families, and communities to thrive </li></ul>
  4. 4. Center for Health & Justice at TASC <ul><li>VISION </li></ul><ul><li>We envision a healthy and just society where people and communities are empowered to overcome and prevent addiction, mental health problems, and criminal behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Racial Justice Initiative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policy Advocacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education and Public Awareness </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Today’s Agenda <ul><li>Unequal Justice: What the Numbers Tell Us </li></ul><ul><li>Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Unequal Justice: What the Numbers Tell Us Pamela Rodriguez George Williams
  7. 7. Unequal Justice: The Numbers Source: Illinois Department of Corrections, 2010 Illinois New-Offense Prison Admissions for Controlled Substances Act Violations (excluding marijuana), 1989-2009
  8. 8. Unequal Justice: The Numbers <ul><li>African Americans 9.1 times more likely to be in prison / jail than whites (Ilinois, 2005): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>14th worst in the nation on disparity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National average = 5.6 times more likely </li></ul></ul>Source: The Sentencing Project, 2007
  9. 9. Unequal Justice: The Numbers Source: U.S. Census, 2009; Illinois Department of Corrections, 2009 Portion of General Population vs. Prison Population, by Race / Ethnicity, 2009 Race / Ethnicity Illinois 2009 Illinois Prisons 2009 White 65% 28% African American 15% 58% Hispanic / Latino 15% 13%
  10. 10. Unequal Justice: The Numbers <ul><li>National surveys find that people of different racial / ethnic backgrounds use drugs at relatively equal rates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>10.1% African Americans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>8.2% among whites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6.2% among Latinos </li></ul></ul>Source: SAMHSA, 2009
  11. 11. Unequal Justice: The Numbers <ul><li>BUT … the number of African Americans sent to prison in Illinois for drug offenses grew by 6 times , from 1,421 to 9,088 (1990-2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Number of whites sent to prison for drug offenses remained stable </li></ul>Source: Lurigio and Harkenrider, 2005
  12. 12. Unequal Justice: The Numbers <ul><li>BUT … the proportion of African Americans arrested for drug offenses in Illinois grew from 46% to 82% of those arrested for such crimes (1983-1992) </li></ul><ul><li>The proportions of whites arrested shrank from 41% to 11% </li></ul>Source: Lurigio and Harkenrider, 2005
  13. 13. <ul><li>Racial disproportionality for low-level drug possession arrests increases with accumulation of criminal record (Illinois, 2005) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>36% of 1 st time low-level drug offense arrestees African American/Latino </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>66% of overall low-level drug offense arrestees African American/Latino </li></ul></ul>Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  14. 14. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings <ul><ul><li>Disproportionality occurs in urban, suburban, and rural areas (2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-whites were arrested at higher rates than whites relative to their representation in the general population in 62 of Illinois’ 102 counties </li></ul></ul>Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  15. 15. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings <ul><li>African Americans and Latinos more likely to be prosecuted in Cook Co. than whites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AAs 1.8 times more likely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Latinos 1.4 times more likely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Controlling for criminal history and other variables </li></ul></ul>Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  16. 16. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings <ul><li>60% of Cook Co. defendants (2005) charged with low-level drug crimes (i.e. Class 4 felony) had charges dropped or dismissed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spent avg. 3 weeks in jail awaiting preliminary hearing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No access to diversionary programming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At risk for increased sentencing upon future justice involvement </li></ul></ul>Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  17. 17. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings <ul><li>African Americans charged only with low-level drug crimes in Cook Co. (2005) were sent to prison at a rate 8 times greater than whites </li></ul><ul><li>African Americans charged with low-level drug crimes sent to prison at a rate almost 5 times greater than whites </li></ul>Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  18. 18. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  19. 19. Unequal Justice: DJIS Commission Findings <ul><li>Cook Co. defendants (2005) originally facing drug-free zone charges which were then dropped were sentenced more severely than those with similar final charges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>89% of drug-free zone arrests = nonwhite arrestees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>58% of defendants originally charged with drug-free zone violation which was later dropped were sent to prison vs. 41% of other defendants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suggests sentencing decisions based on original charge rather than pled-down charge </li></ul></ul>Source: Illinois DJIS Commission, 2010
  20. 20. This is NOT inevitable!
  21. 21. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do?
  22. 22. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Educate yourself – issues, justice literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Advocate for smart public policies with your elected officials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>City, county, state, and federal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make your voice heard – they work for you! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Educate your family and community, urge them to advocate </li></ul><ul><li>Look in the mirror = self-audit </li></ul>
  23. 23. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Will a new law have unintended negative consequences on minority communities? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Federal Crack / Cocaine law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insist that legislators can access “Racial / Ethnic Impact Statements” when considering new laws </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Iowa, Connecticut, Minnesota </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Illinois considered (2008), efforts underway again </li></ul></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Do “drug-free zone” laws make communities safer? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% of Chicago covered by drug-free zones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is this the case in areas outside of Chicago, with much smaller minority communities? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does happen to who because of them? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk to your family and community about whether or not these zones create actual security </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Are people in minority communities often arrested without cause? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Charges dropped in 60% of drug arrests in Cook Co., but … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 weeks in jail = major disruption! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insist to local lawmakers that county prosecutors (not police) review cases quickly to make sure they have merit </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Are people with criminal records able to get the jobs they need to lead a “clean” life? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Support HB0298 - talk to your legislators! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State Representative Howard: Allows court-ordered sealing of records without conviction </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support SB1284 - talk to your legislators! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State Senator Lightford: Civil rights violation for employer to ask / use arrest, charge or expunged / sealed record as basis for refusal to hire </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><ul><li>Support SB1771 - talk to your legislators! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State Senator Raoul: Allows first-time drug possession offenders to be sentenced to probation without pleading guilty and receiving a conviction on their record </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Is Illinois investing in our communities or corrections? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tell your state legislators and the Governor that drug treatment is cheaper and more effective than prison </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Governor Quinn recently announced the ELIMINATION of non-Medicaid funding for drug treatment in Illinois </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Each 1,000 non-violent offenders diverted from prison to supervised community treatment saves the state $20 million </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><ul><li>Support HB2048 - talk to your legislators! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State Rep. Reboletti: Allows county prosecutors to use money collected from drug dealers to fund drug treatment and half-way houses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support HB0094 - talk to your legislators! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State Rep. Ford: Requires that state and local governmental bodies use census figures adjusted to reflect the pre-incarceration addresses of persons imprisoned in state or federal facilities in Illinois. (Many streams of governmental resources are tied to census figures.) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Know your rights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A criminal conviction has many negative consequences for years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Booklet: You Have the Right: What You and Your Family Should Know In Case You Are Arrested in Illinois </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>Could my work or other activities be unintentionally contributing to or causing injustices? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conduct a self-audit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t expect it to be pain-free or easy </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Equal Justice for All: What Can I Do? <ul><li>What are you working on that addresses racial / ethnic injustices? </li></ul><ul><li>New ideas? </li></ul>
  33. 33. Thank You <ul><li>Pamela Rodriguez </li></ul><ul><li>President </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>George Williams </li></ul><ul><li>Vice President of Community and Government Affairs </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Rev. Tommie Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery Support Services Coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Center for Health and Justice at TASC </li></ul><ul><li>www.centerforhealthandjustice.org </li></ul><ul><li>Illinois DJIS Commission Report </li></ul><ul><li>www.centerforhealthandjustice.org/resources </li></ul>

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