Date: June 16, 2020
This session presents a framework for understanding the sources of racial disparity in the criminal justice system and suggests actions that defense attorneys can take to address this problem. The roots of this racial disparity precede criminal justice contact: conditions of socioeconomic inequality contribute to higher rates of some violent and property crimes among people of color. But four features of the justice system exacerbate this underlying inequality: (1) laws and policies with a disparate racial impact; (2) racial bias in discretionary decisions; (3) underfunding of key criminal justice services and the imposition of financial burdens; and (4) the collateral consequences of a felony conviction. The session describes how jurisdictions around the country have worked to address each of these sources of inequality. Defense attorneys can contribute to these efforts by assessing their casework for bias; engaging in public education, litigation, and advocacy; and by reforming hiring, admissions, and discipline policies in the institutions to which they belong.
Nazgol Ghandnoosh is a Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization engaged in research and advocacy for criminal justice reform.
Start time is 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.