Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System 2021: Report to the Washington Supreme Court
This report is an update on the 2011 Preliminary Report on Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System. This update does not include as context the history of race discrimination in Washington, and readers are encouraged to view the 2011 report for its brief historical overview.14 The 2011 report began with that historical overview because the criminal justice system does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, it exists as part of a legal system that for decades actively managed and controlled where people could live, work, recreate, and even be buried.
Members of communities impacted by race disproportionality in Washington’s criminal justice system were invited to share with the task force their experiences and perspectives. These listening sessions revealed pain, suffering, and distrust that statistics fail to capture. The listening sessions serve to remind us that lives, families, and communities are torn apart by a criminal justice system that allows for disproportionate incarceration, disproportionate prosecution, disproportionate arrests, and disproportionate stops without examining fully the causes of this disproportionality.
Part II provides a summary of the findings of the 2011 report and includes some key developments that have occurred since that report was issued. Part III provides an updated picture of disproportionality in Washington’s criminal justice system. It includes statistics on disproportionalities in policing, which was not surveyed in the 2011 report. Part IV includes perspectives from communities and individuals who directly experience the effects of disproportionality in the criminal justice system. Part V examines proffered causes for the observed race disproportionality.
Task Force 2.0 Research Working Group, Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System 2021: Report to the Washington Supreme Court, 45 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 969 (2022).
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