Racial Disparity

JS Publication March 28, 2011

Numbers Game: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi's Criminal Justice System

On March 28, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi in collaboration with Justice Strategies released NUMBERS GAME: The Vicious Cycle of Incarceration in Mississippi’s Criminal Justice System. Read more »

JS Publication September 10, 2009

Strategies for Engaging Suburban and Rural Communities in New Jersey

This memo is designed to assist the New Jersey Second Chance coalition in their efforts to educate legislators that represent rural and suburban towns about areas of common ground they share with urban communities seeking criminal justice reform. Serving as a best practices document rooted in experiences pushing for criminal justice reforms in Connecticut, strategies from this memo are designed to help New Jersey advocates engage non-traditional allies in rural and suburban New Jersey on the need to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system.

News Article The Stamford Advocate March 25, 2006

Supporters Urge Change to Laws on Drug-free School Zones (CT)

HARTFORD -- Calling current law racist, activists yesterday pushed for a bill that would shrink the size of zones around schools, day-care centers and public housing that carry stiffer penalties for drug offenses.

The bill would reduce the current 1,500 foot "drug free" radius around those facilities to 200 feet, within which additional mandatory three-year sentences are tacked on to drug offenses, including possession, sale and intent to sell drugs. Read more »

News Article The Press of Atlantic City March 24, 2006

Study Concludes Drug-free Zones Not Protecting Children (NJ)

Drug-free zones not only don't protect children, but instead have put a disproportionate number of minorities in jail, according to experts who have been studying the policy.

A national study — spawned by a New Jersey commission's findings — was released Thursday. In it, the Justice Policy Institute found that the zones are too large and therefore do not deter drug sales within school zones and other protected areas. Read more »

JS Publication March 23, 2006

Disparity by Design: How drug-free zone laws impact racial disparity – and fail to protect youth

A new report coauthored by Justice Strategies analysts Judy Greene and Kevin Pranis, and Jason Ziedenberg of The Justice Policy Institute, finds that drug-free zone laws have no deterrent effect on drug sales near schools but instead fuel racial disparity in imprisonment. Read more »

News Article

New Jersey drug-free zone laws produce "devastating" disparity, no deterrence

New Jersey's drug-free zone laws have no deterrent effect on drug sales near schools but instead fuel racial disparity in imprisonment according to New Jersey's Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing and a new report coauthored by policy analysts with Justice Strategies and Justice Policy Institute. Since the state's "school-zone" law took effect, the proportion of blacks admitted to prison for drug convictions has risen four times faster than the proportion of whites. Read more »

News Article

Connecticut drug-free zone laws blanket minority neighborhoods but fail to deter drug activity

Connecticut ranks at the top in the nation in the degree of disparity between the rates of incarceration for whites and blacks. The state’s drug-free zone laws contribute to that disparity by blanketing densely populated urban neighborhoods with prohibited zones. Yet new research shows that the laws do nothing to protect in youth from drug activity Read more »

News Article

Massachusetts drug-free zone law ineffective, not evenly enforced

In Massachusetts, where 80 percent of those sentenced with the drug-free enhancement are ethnic and racial minorities, two different research efforts have determined that the laws are not working as intended. Researchers affiliated with the Boston University School of Public Health found that decisions by police and prosecutors to invoke the statute had little or nothing to do with keeping drugs away from schoolchildren. A research team at Northeastern University School of Law found disturbing patterns of racial disparity in arrests and charging practices. Read more »

News Article The Associated Press March 23, 2006

Drug-Free School Zone Laws Questioned

In reaction to the crack epidemic of the 1980s, laws creating drug-free zones around schools spread nationwide. Now, hard questions are being raised — by legislators, activists, even law enforcement officials — about the fairness and effectiveness of those laws.

In New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington state, bills have been proposed to sharply reduce the size of the zones. A former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts reviewed hundreds of drug-free-zone cases, and found that less than 1 percent involved drug sales to youths. Read more »

JS Publication October 31, 2005

Alabama Prison Crisis

Justice Strategies researchers find that nonviolent drug offenses drive explosive prison population growth

Alabama's prisons are dangerously overcrowded and disastrously under-funded. Facilities designed for 13,500 prisoners hold more than 27,000, and Alabama's largest prisons are crammed to three times their design capacity. State corrections officials struggle daily to manage a system characterized by the nation's lowest per-prisoner expenditures and highest ratio of prisoners to guards, along with a death rate that far exceeds the norm. Read more »

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