In 2010 the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section launched the Racial Justice Improvement Project (RJIP), with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The Criminal Justice Section is proud to report that RJIP was recently refunded by BJA to conduct reform in four additional new sites: Dane County, Wisconsin; Montgomery County, Pennsylvania; North Carolina; and New Orleans, Louisiana (Municipal Level).
The RJIP was originally a two-year federally funded initiative designed to identify and reform policies and practices that produce racial disparities in local criminal justice systems across the country. The original task force groups included Delaware (statewide); St. Louis County, Minnesota; Kings County, New York; and New Orleans, Louisiana, each of whom received financial support and technical assistance to implement a local racial justice improvement task force focused on addressing problems contributing to the racially disparate impact of their local criminal justice system. Unfortunately, after a two year run, BJA was nearing the end of its funding-commitment to the four original sites; however, in June 2013, RJIP received additional funding from the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF) to sustain the reform efforts in three of our original jurisdictions: Louisiana, Minnesota, and New York (Delaware recently received additional state-funding to sustain their reform). Each of the four original sites are in the process of evaluating their reforms’ effectiveness, and are working to continue, expand, and sustain their current reform efforts utilizing the funds from PWF. The Project Staff is working on a final report for each jurisdiction’s findings as well as creating a promising practices report and a task force replication guide, as to be used to assist other jurisdictions in implementing criminal justice reform using the original project’s task force efforts as a model.
Our four additional task force groups, recently chosen by our RJIP Advisory Board, can be found by clicking here. View our Request for Proposal for more information Request For Proposal (RFP)
The Racial Justice Improvement Project's new task force members
attended a kick-off training conference on June 7, 2013 at The George
Washington University Law School in Washington D.C.
Each of the original task force groups have identified a racial disparity within their local criminal justice system and have worked on a policy reform that could reduce or eliminate that disparity without any change in law or legislative enactment.
The Delaware task force has focused its reform efforts on the disproportionate number of African Americans that are subject to probation revocation.
The New Orleans, Louisiana task force has worked on expanding the number of minorities eligible to participate in the District Attorney’s pretrial diversion program and increasing the capacity of the diversion program to serve the growing local Latino community. In addition, the Task Force is currently in the planning stages of creating an accelerated diversion program for defendants charged with nonviolent first time property crimes.
The Kings County, New York task force is focusing on addressing racial disparities that exist among minority juveniles. The task force has created a juvenile diversion program utilizing a curriculum provided by the Center for Court Innovation. The task force is also working to develop implicit bias training for judges and attorneys.
The St. Louis County, Minnesota task force is addressing the over-representation of African American and Native American arrestees in pretrial detention and the disparate (higher) bail imposed on individuals from these ethnic groups.
Each of the four new task force groups is currently working to identify a racial disparity within their local criminal justice system and has begun working on a policy reform that could reduce or eliminate that disparity without any change in law or legislative enactment.
Project News Update! The Racial Justice Improvement Project was nominated for the the HiiL Innovating Justice Awards 2013 for our innovation to the justice field. The winner is to be announced mid-December in The Hauge, Netherlands. We send all project members sincere congratulations!
The Racial Justice Improvement Project is proud to announce
that it was the 2011 recipient of the ABA SOC Meritorious
Service Award. The award is given each year to a project that
demonstrates outstanding commitment and work. Pictured
above is Jack Hanna, Criminal Justice Section Grant Director;
Kim Ball, Bureau of Justice Assistance Policy Advisor; Cynthia
Jones, Racial Justice Improvement Project Former Director;
Salma S. Safiedine, Racial Justice Improvement Project Director.
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