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Again and again the data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately, and systematically, stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with what has become a glaring divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.

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Still Not Free When They Come Home, a Community Report: How Wisconsin's Criminal Legal System Harms Democracy and the Black Community on Milwaukee's North Side

October 16, 2023

During the first half of 2023, Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), a Black-led community-based organization in Milwaukee, and the Center for Popular Democracy conducted a participatory action research project where six of BLOC's member leaders from the North Side of Milwaukee interviewed their family members, neighbors, and other residents of the community about how policing and incarceration impacted their community's ability to participate in our democracy.Community members living on the northside of Milwaukee, where a large share of Wisconsin's Black residents live, have long experienced racism and state violence, criminalization and incarceration, poverty, and disenfranchisement (having their rights, especially voting rights, taken away). The community also has a long history of civic and political involvement—from civil rights era demonstrations against racial segregation to more recent protests against police violence. Today, its residents are among the most incarcerated in the US—and people often describe one of its zip codes, 53206, as among the most incarcerated zip codes in the country. This horrible status is the result of deeply entrenched historic and ongoing racial segregation, economic exclusion, and targeted policing that have torn at the fabric of North Side families and community fordecades.Drawing from interviews with community members, the BLOC researchers' long-term observations from their community, and their own and their family members' personal experiences, this report discusses the impact of Wisconsin's criminal legal system on the Black community on the northside of Milwaukee.

In Defense of the Movement: Policing, Criminalization, and Surveillance of Protesters of State Violence

January 25, 2023

The Communities Transforming Policing Fund, Center for Protest Law and Litigation, CS Fund, Piper Fund, and Funders for Justice are calling on our peer philanthropic organizations to partner with us in defense of the movement. The movement to end state violence is unique, but deeply connected to all movements for equality and justice. Every right fought for and won in the United States has come through mass protests and mobilization. Every right taken away and criminalized is enforced by police and often with the use of surveillance, legal targeting, and violence. To reinforce our Democracy and to be in alignment with movements for justice and equality, philanthropy must commit to the long-term legal, safety, and security support of protesters.

Looking Beyond the Sentence: Examining Policy Impacts on Racial Disparities in Federal Sentencing Across Stages and Groups, and Over Time

January 12, 2023

Funded by the National Institute of Justice [15PNIJ-21-GG-02817-RESS], we used publicly available federal sentencing data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission to measure racial disparities for multiple race groups and stages of sentencing over time (fiscal years 1999-2021). We 1) measured racial disparities between matched cases across three stages of federal sentencing, represented by two elements each; 2) identified at which points in time the disparities changed significantly using time series plots and structured break analyses; and 3) used this information to systematically review federal policies to identify which might have contributed to significant decreases in racial disparities. In this report, we discuss the study's purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.

The Social Costs of Policing

November 16, 2022

Nationwide, policymakers and the public are considering how best to address crime. Deeper insights on policing should guide decisions about its funding and role in the provision of public safety. Traditional cost-benefit analyses usually find policing to be "cost-effective," meaning it creates benefits that exceed its costs. Yet a range of policing activities can result in "social costs" that are not typically considered. As a result of police activity, people can suffer physical and behavioral health problems; lose educational opportunities, jobs, and housing; and withdraw from civic engagement. An emerging body of research illuminates the extent of these social costs, which are borne primarily by Black communities and other overpoliced communities of color. Vera researchers created this report and fact sheet to fill a critical gap in understanding the holistic costs of relying on policing as a primary approach to safety.

Racial Disparities in Traffic Stops

October 10, 2022

Stark racial inequity has long been a deeply troubling aspect of our criminal justice system. In recent years, traffic stops have emerged as a key factor driving some of these inequities and an area of potential reform. Are there opportunities to identify kinds of traffic stops that could be enforced in alternative ways—potentially improving officer and civilian safety, enhancing police efficiency, and reducing racial disparities—without jeopardizing road safety?To explore this question, in this report we use data on 3.4 million traffic stops made in 2019 by California's 15 largest law enforcement agencies to examine racial disparities in stop outcomes and experiences across time of the day, type of law enforcement agency, and type of traffic violation.

Racial Discrimination in the United States: Human Rights Watch / ACLU Joint Submission Regarding the United States’ Record Under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

August 8, 2022

The United States signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("ICERD" or "Convention") in 1966. President Lyndon Johnson's administration noted at the time that the United States "has not always measured up to its constitutional heritage of equality for all" but that it was "on the march" toward compliance.[1] The United States finally ratified the Convention in 1994 and first reported on its progress in implementing the Convention to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("CERD" or "Committee") in 2000. In August 2022, the Committee will examine the combined 10th – 12th periodic reports by the United States on compliance with the Convention. This report supplements the submission of the government with additional information in key areas and offers recommendations that will, if adopted, enhance the government's ability to comply with ICERD.

An Analysis of Racial Disparities in Police Traffic Stops in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, from 2010 to 2019

June 27, 2022

The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 spurred a national reckoning around how Black people are viewed and treated by law enforcement and the criminal legal system. Some elected officials, prosecutors, and police have acknowledged their moral responsibility to pursue racial justice by examining racial disparities and inequities. This report addresses one such practice—non-traffic-safety stops. These occur when police stop and detain people for minor traffic violations that pose no identifiable risk of harm to people outside of the vehicle. Vera partnered with the Suffolk County (Massachusetts) District Attorney's Office from July 2020 to March 2022 to study racial disparities in the criminal legal system. Vera's analysis revealed that non-traffic-safety stops in Suffolk County are worsening racial disparities in traffic enforcement. This report shares findings from Vera's analysis, along with proposed solutions that prohibit or deter such stops.

Reimagining Public Safety in the City of St. Louis: A Vision for Change

April 20, 2022

This report outlines recommendations for a unilateral reimagining of public safety systems. It details guidance for redirecting police services to critical areas of public need and building a network of systems and services to support community needs and ensure measures of safety for the entire community.The recommendations are designed to address racial disparities and reduce the harm caused by the reliance on police. The report addresses gaps and inconsistencies in law enforcement policies, staffing and resourcing needs in the police department, and a need for improvement in both oversight and community resources. The recommendations are divided into suggestions to the Mayor's Office, the St. Louis Department of Public Safety, and guidance to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD).

Police Foundations: A Corporate-Sponsored Threat to Democracy and Black Lives

October 7, 2021

Color Of Change and Public Accountablity Initiative/LittleSis have compiled the most extensive report to date of the links between police foundations and corporations, identifying over 1,200 corporate donations or executives serving as board members at 23 of the largest police foundations in the country. This is the largest known study identifying the acute threat that police foundations pose to Black and Brown communities and democracy.

Minneapolis Without Policing: Understanding History to Building the Future

September 29, 2021

Black people have always known that systems of criminalization and surveillance are designed to destroy. The overwhelming sadness and rage we feel when one of us is murdered by the police yet again is the same sadness and rage that our ancestors felt. They knew that if they wanted justice, they had to build their own communities centered in love, accountability, and care. Now more than ever, we must follow in their footsteps. As we write this, we are surviving in a police state, during a pandemic that disproportionately kills and disables Black people, with a recession looming and a clear expiration date for our planet. The moment for transformation is upon us; will you step into it with us? We give this resource guide to you as a gift and an invitation. Our hope is that these pages will empower you to take your next step in embracing community-led safety. We offer guidance about starting and leading these conversations, context to help you understand how far-reaching police violence is, and resources across the Twin Cities to support your work. The work to transform the world we live in isn't easy, but we love you, ourselves, and our communities too much to not fully invest in this movement. Consider this an invitation to join us on this journey, to one day reach the liberation we dream of.

USA: The World is Watching Mass violations by U.S Police of Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Rights

September 17, 2021

The first part of this report is an update to Amnesty International's 2015 report Deadly Force: Police use of lethal force in the United States, which reviewed state use of lethal force laws in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The second part of the report focuses on the policing of protests that have occurred in cities across the USA since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amnesty International reviewed over 500 videos of protests and documented 125 separate incidents of police violence against protestors in 40 states and the District of Columbia between May 26th and June 5th of 2020. This report also draws on Amnesty International's interviews with 50 individuals, including protestors, journalists, legal observers and street medics, and a review of media reports, medical reports, photos, and videos. Conclusively, there is a disturbing lack of progress in the last five years in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others. 

No Police in Schools: A Vision for Safe and Supportive Schools in CA

August 24, 2021

"No Police in Schools: A Vision for Safe and Supportive Schools in CA" analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Education's 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the 2019 California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) Stops dataset, and data from Stockton Unified School District on police in schools. The data conclusively show harmful and discriminatory policing patterns in schools. School police contribute to the criminalization of tens of thousands of California students, resulting in them being pushed out of school and into the school-to-prison pipeline. Critically, the data suggest that schools underreport the number of assigned law enforcement officers, so these problems are likely even more severe.