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As we continue to look at how racism impacts the U.S., this month we are highlighting materials about the U.S. criminal justice system, and in particular police violence, mass incarceration, racial bias in criminal justice, and criminal justice and police reform. Research in these areas are not a recent development - reforms of these systems have been looked at for decades, but only recently taken center stage. To provide some background about the criminal justice system, look at these facts:

  • Over 2 million people are in U.S. prisons and jails.
  • While 37% of the U.S. population are people of color, they comprise 70% of the prison population.
  • For men born in 2001, the likelihood of going to prison at some point during their lifetime is 1 in 3 for Black males and 1 in 6 for Hispanic males.
  • Police violence is one of the leading causes of death for young Black men.
  • Native Americans make up 1.2% of the U.S. population, but are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by the police.


  • Bonczar, T. P. (2003). Prevalence of Imprisonment in the U.S. Population,1974-2001. Retrieved from
  • Criminal Justice Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Edwards, F., Lee, H., & Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the united states by age, race-ethnicity, and sex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS, 116(34), 16793-16798. doi:10.1073/pnas.1821204116 
  • Woodard, S. (2016). The movement for Native lives. In these Times, 40(10), 20.

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