Racial disparities plague Florida’s criminal justice system. People of color make up 59.4 percent of Florida’s incarcerated population, but only 42.5 percent of the state’s general population.The disparities are even greater when you consider just the state’s black population. Black people make up only 16.9 of the general population, but comprise 47 percent of Florida’s prison population. In contrast, the majority of people who were released from prison in FY 2017-18 were white.
What's the Solution?
Like fiscal impact statements, racial impact statements could assist lawmakers in detecting unforeseen policy ramifications before adopting and implementing them. At least five states – Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon – are using racial impact statements to shape policy.15 While racial impact statements are a relatively new tool, they have shown positive results in Iowa. There, criminal justice bills that were projected to narrow racial disparities – or to have a neutral impact – were nearly twice as likely to pass as those that widened racial disparities.
Racial impact statements can help lawmakers eliminate racial disparities, resulting in a fairer and more effective criminal justice system.