ADDRESS RACIAL DISPARITIES
Research shows that there are longstanding racial disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System.
Black inmates make up nearly 45 percent of the incarcerated population in Arkansas, but only about 16 percent of the state’s population. There is a direct relationship between race and type of convicted charge. There is a direct relationship between race and length of sentence. Blacks are more likely to receive the death penalty as well as to serve more severe and longer sentences.
This unacceptable situation is the direct result of policies which target marginalized communities and create disparate treatment and tougher sentences based on race or income.
We must require Racial Impact Statements for all future bills related to criminal punishment, and create a centralized collection of data by all law enforcement agencies to identify disparate treatment.
We should also require Implicit Racial Bias Training for law enforcement personnel including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and an abbreviated training for potential jurors. We must create Community Forums to provide open and honest dialogue with legislators, law enforcement and government personnel about the disparities in the criminal justice system and its impact on marginalized communities.