On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured) announced tthe Justice Department’s aims in collecting data on stops and arrests in order to combat racial bias in the criminal justice system. In his weekly video address, Holder says that the Department’s efforts will be part of the newly formed National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice grant program.
The Center grant program is a $4.75 million competitive grant program that looks to bridge the divide between law enforcement agencies and the minority community. With New York’s “stop and frisk” and the nationwide “stand your ground laws” seemingly and unfairly affecting people of color, the Department wants to peel back the layers of the data to see if there is a trend that suggests bias.
From AG Holder’s video:
“”We are heeding the President’s call. This month, the Justice Department is launching a new initiative – the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice – to analyze and reduce the effect of racial bias within the criminal justice system. The Center will be funded through an initial competitive grant award totaling $4.75 million and is jointly supported by the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, the COPS Office, the Civil Rights Division, the Office on Violence Against Women, and the Community Relations Service. This effort will encompass a broad range of areas in which fairness and trust can come in to question – from stops and searches to wrongful convictions.
Of course, to be successful in reducing both the experience and the perception of bias, we must have verifiable data about the problem. As a key part of this initiative, we will work with grant recipients and local law enforcement to collect data about stops and searches, arrests, and case outcomes in order to help assess the impact of possible bias. We will conduct this research while simultaneously implementing strategies in five initial pilot sites with the goal of reducing the role of bias and building confidence in the justice system among young people of color. This work will likely include anti-gang and mentoring projects intended to empower young African-American and Latino males and break the vicious cycle of poverty, incarceration, and crime that destroys too many promising futures each and every day.”