Home / Gain Knowledge / Foundation Landscapes / Racial Equity / Knowledge Center


Racial Equity Knowledge Center

Raising awareness about funding for racial equity efforts.

Incorporating Racial Equity into Criminal Justice Reform

by Marc Mauer; Nazgol Ghandnoosh

Oct 1, 2014

There are few areas of American society where racial disparities are as profound and as troubling as in the criminal justice system. In fact, racial perceptions of crime and race-influenced policy development have been intimately tied to the development of mass incarceration. Yet there is growing evidence that the high rate of minority imprisonment is excessive for public safety goals and damaging for family and community structures in high-incarceration neighborhoods.


This briefing paper provides an overview of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and a framework for developing and implementing remedies for these disparities. We first describe the rationale for incorporating racial equity as a goal of an overall criminal justice reform strategy. We then document trends in racial disparity and assess the various causal factors that have produced these outcomes. Next, we identify a selection of best practices for addressing disparities, along with recommendations for implementation. Finally, we provide a guide for establishing rigorous metrics for success