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Resolution

Establish a “Criminal Justice Impact Statement”

WHEREAS, one of every nine (9) black males is in prison or jail; and

 

WHEREAS, one of every three black males born today can expect to do time in state or federal prison if these current trends persist; and

 

WHEREAS, African-Americans are nearly six (6) times as likely to be incarcerated, but there is also broad variation of the ratio among the State of Iowa leading the nation with a black/white ratio of more than 13 to 1; and

 

WHEREAS, crime commission rates among the races and ethnicities has been determined to be similar, there is no judicial and/or public safety reason for such disparities; and

 

WHEREAS, the effects of high incarceration rates go beyond the trauma of incarceration itself, including extra challenges in gaining employment, reduced lifetime earnings, restrictions of various public benefits and voting rights; and

 

WHEREAS, the effects of incarceration also have broad consequences for the families of offenders, including the shame and stigma of that imprisonment, loss of financial, and emotional support of the loved ones behind bars; and

 

WHEREAS, the effects of incarceration extend to communities at large, with the challenges of re-entry resulting in high rates of recidivism and the consequent costs of burgeoning prison systems; and

WHEREAS, the states need policies and practices that can work effectively to promote public safety, they must also find ways to reduce the disproportionate rate of incarceration of people of color; and

 

WHEREAS, these imbalanced outcomes result from a complex set of socio- economic factors, overtly impartial criminal justice policies have unintended consequences that would be best addressed prior to adoption of new initiatives; and

 

WHEREAS, racial impact statements, similar to presently practiced fiscal and environment impact statements, are particularly important for criminal justice policies because it is exceedingly difficult to reverse sentencing policies once they have been adopted; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2007, the American Law Institute revised its Model Penal Code calling for sentencing commissions to prepare projections to quantify "demographic patterns" and with correctional resource projections; and

 

WHEREAS, the Model Penal Code "provision treats numerical disparities in punishment as an important societal cost that must be considered along with other factors when existing sentencing structure is assessed, or when changes within the system are contemplated"; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2007, the Delaware Supreme Court, in conjunction with the Delaware Criminal Justice Council, convened a Racial and Ethnic Fairness Summit, including 75 key policymakers, practitioners, and community leaders producing a working document promoting policies and perceived to be fair policies by all members of the community; and

 

WHEREAS, the 110th Congress introduced the bipartisan legislation of the Justice Integrity Act of 2008 calling for the establishment of broad-based task forces in ten United States attorney districts, comprised of leaders from the jurisdiction's federal and state justice systems, as well as community representatives charged with producing racial and ethnic fairness plans analyzing data on prosecutorial decision-making, assessing whether disparities are explained by relevant legal variables, and recommending policies and practices reducing any unjustified disparities; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2008, the State of Iowa enacted near-unanimous legislation requiring, in addition to, preparing a correctional impact statement for policy changes, the legislative services agency should also conduct a racial impact analysis that examines the impact of sentencing or parole changes or racial and ethnic minorities; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2008, the State of Connecticut enacted similar bipartisan legislation; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2008, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle issued an executive order supporting the creation of a Racial Disparities Oversight Commission.

 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP directs its State/State Area Conferences to advocate to their State Legislatures the mandated collection and disaggregation of racial and ethnic criminal justice data for the creation of racial impact statement to be considered in the promulgation of any and all new criminal justice policies or regulations within their state criminal justice systems; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, if such disparities are determined to exist, the units lobby their legislatures to enact racial impact statement procedures that rectify these unjust disparities within their criminal justice systems; and

 

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP support final passage of the Justice Integrity Act to serve as a national model of process in addressing discriminatory sentencing and incarceration practices.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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