Analysis of Disparities

Analysis of Disparities

NCCD provides technical assistance to foundations, social justice agencies, and local and state governments that wish to address racial disparities in their communities and adult and juvenile justice jurisdictions. Nationally, people of color make up an increasingly large segment of all offenders processed and incarcerated in the justice system. The causes of disproportion are complex. A superficial argument is that the numbers simply reflect the patterns of offending among racial groups. However, we know that social, economic, and environmental factors affect the rates at which different ethnic groups come to the attention of law enforcement agencies. We also know that the disproportion becomes more extreme as defendants move deeper into the system; disproportion is already significant at the arrest stage, but is even more out of balance among youth placed in residential detention and state adult prison, for example.

Using a data-driven planning process, NCCD works with jurisdictions to identify the extent of disproportionality, the stages at which the overrepresentation occurs, and research-based best practices and promising approaches for addressing the issue. Usually, the planning process includes mobilizing key stakeholders, assessing the decision points where disparities occur, and leading a process of community planning to improve the disparities. NCCD has contracted with multiple jurisdictions to identify overrepresentation using data from their own systems, recommend evidence-based practices to alleviate DMC, and collaborate with justice system partners and community members to develop a plan of action.

NCCD’s body of work covers both adults and juveniles. Studies using state and national datasets include racial disparities at multiple decision points regarding juveniles; the overrepresentation of American Indian/Alaska Native youth in the juvenile justice system; the overrepresentation of African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives in the adult system.

NCCD also conducts studies for organizations that indicate that racial disparities are the result of practices by public agencies. One analysis examined differential treatment of African American families in housing units resulting from police practices; others have focused on racial disparities in suspensions of children and referrals to police agencies in public schools. Another funder’s research question was, do African American youth in fact commit more crime than White youth as the arrest statistics would indicate? Currently NCCD is conducting a study of bail, pre-trial release, and racial disparities among adults.