2014 was replete with social unrest to protest police brutality and racial inequality. With many calling for policy reform to improve race problems in the U.S. criminal justice system, new research suggests that the issue is less political and more behavioral. Researchers recommend increased documentation, institutional diversity, and bias training in a new paper published in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences (PIBBS), a SAGE Journal.
"Individuals with different ideologies and political affiliations may well debate police enforcement priorities or factors that contribute to crime. However, people on both sides of the political aisle could agree that racial disparities in charging decisions, jury verdicts, and sentencing violate core American principles related to justice," wrote the researchers Samuel R. Sommers and Satia A. Marotta of Tufts University.
Analyzing racial disparities in policing, charging decisions and trial outcomes, Sommers and Marotta recommend three new policy interventions focused on data, diversity, and training:
"One of the strongest tools for combating implicit bias is consciousness raising--making our unconscious associations conscious, and simply recognizing that bias can occur even among those of good intent. For racial disparities in legal outcomes, such acknowledgment of potential problems need not be cast as a 'political issue.'"
Materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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