Racial Disparities Race and Policing Resources Additional Resources on Race and the Criminal Legal System
A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics on interactions between police and the public found that Black residents were more likely to be stopped by police than white or Hispanic residents, that Black and Hispanic residents were more likely to have multiple contacts with police than white residents, and that when police initiated an interaction, they were twice as likely to threaten or use force against Black and Hispanic residents than against white residents. According to a report from the Sentencing Project, Black Americans comprised 27% of all individuals arrested in America in 2016, about twice their proportion of the total population. Further, Black youth made up 35% of juvenile arrests in 2016, despite only accounting for 15% of the total youth population in the U.S. The authors argue that main drivers of these disparities include disproportionate levels of police contact with Black Americans, residential segregation and concentrated urban poverty, continuing Broken Windows Policies in many cities, and revenue-driven policing.
Local-level data provides more insight into policing across the country. A study of traffic stops in San Diego between 2014 and 2015 found that Black and Hispanic drivers were more likely than white drivers to be searched following a traffic stop, even though white drivers were more likely to be found with contraband. Similarly, in 2016 a Chicago Police Accountability Task Force found that Black and Latino drivers were searched by police four times as often as white drivers, even though police found contraband on white drivers twice as often (Vera Institute, 2018).
Police use of force data is limited, as most precincts don’t explicitly collect data on use of force, but existing data suggests that African Americans are subject to both non-lethal and lethal use of force at disproportionate rates. A Propublica report published in 2014 found that young black men in recent years were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than were white young men. Even in situations where officers make no arrest and report compliance, Black people are 21.2 percent more likely to experience some form of force (Fryer, 2017).
In some police departments, police officers report explicit racism from their superiors. In Brooklyn, multiple officers say that their commander instructed them to focus their enforcement on Black and Latino people, and to leave the “soft targets”—white and Asian people—alone. An investigation into the Austin Police Department found evidence of bigotry, racist language, and clear policy violations, bolstered by a culture of retaliation that stifles any effort to make the department better and to address officer misconduct. Some expressions of racism are less explicit. A 2013 study found that police officers with higher implicit dehumanization scores were more likely to use force against black children than against white children. Officers who use unnecessary force often employ dehumanizing portrayals of the victim to justify force under the prominent “reasonable belief” approach (Salky, Schuman, & Stanford, 2015).
Heavy policing as a response to crises, from drug epidemics to viral pandemics, disproportionately subjects people of color to arrest and further involvement in the criminal legal system. In May 2020, NACDL’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted a Supplemental Statement of Principles warning against overcriminalization during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Such criminalization, as in the balance of America’s criminal justice system, will be borne disproportionately by people of color and other socially and economically disadvantaged and stigmatized communities, and this is unacceptable. Indeed, in recent weeks, we have witnessed disparate treatment by law enforcement authorities as well as pronouncements by elected political officials adversely impacting groups including African Americans, Asian Americans, Hasidic Jewish Americans, and Hispanic Americans, among others.”
New data shows Virginia police are more likely to stop and search Black drivers, Virginia Mercury, May 9, 2021.
Police ‘Pretext’ Traffic Stops Need to End, Some Lawmakers Say, Pew, Sept, 3, 2020.
Tracking Enforcement Trends in New York City: 2003-2018, Data Collaborative for Justice, Sept. 2020.
A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States, Nature Human Behavior, July 2020.
Racial disparities revealed in massive traffic stop dataset, University of South Carolina, June 12, 2020.
An Empirical Assessment of Pretextual Stops and Racial Profiling, Stanford Law Review, Forthcoming, Jan 2020.
NACDL Champion: Inside NACDL: Rooting Out Bias: How a Bad Stop Can Make Good Law, Jan/Feb 2019.
- ‘I Got Tired of Hunting Black and Hispanic People’, The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2019.
- Police stops are still marred by racial discrimination, new data shows. Prison Policy Initiative, October 2018.
- An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System, Vera Institute of Justice, May 2018.
- Report to the United Nations on Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System, The Sentencing Project, April 2018.
- An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force, Ronald G. Fryer, July 2017.
- Blue-on-Black Violence: A Provisional Model of Some of the Causes, Devon W. Carbado, Georgetown Law Journal, 2016.
- NACDL Champion: Lawful Use of Deadly Force by the Police: What’s Wrong in Ferguson and Elsewhere, May 2015.
- Deadly Force, in Black and White. ProPublica, Oct. 2014.
- Coming of Age with Stop and Frisk: Experiences, Self-Perceptions, and Public Safety Implications, Vera Institute of Justice, September 2013.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.