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Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation: Summary Findings and Implications from a Multisite Study

Accession Number: 028456
Media Type: 
Document

"Racial and ethnic disparity is pervasive in the American criminal justice system. This is particularly stark for blacks, who despite constituting just 13 percent of the US population, account for 30 percent of adult probationers, 37 percent of jail inmates, 38 percent of prisoners, and 40 percent of parolees. Such disparities have broad consequences, from impacts on the health and functioning of minority communities to perceptions of the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. There are more probationers than parolees, prisoners, and jail inmates combined. Probation practice and outcomes thus affect the lives of more adults than any other criminal justice sanction. Further, probation supervision represents an important fork in the road for justice-involved individuals, with failure on probation setting a path for more severe sanctioning, particularly incarceration. Disparities in probation revocations could then contribute to disparities in incarceration. Yet, few studies examine racial and ethnic disparities at this decision point. This brief discusses Urban’s study examining the degree of disparity in probation revocation outcomes and the drivers of that disparity" (p. 1). Sections include: key findings—revocation rates for Black probationers are the greatest with risk assessment scores and criminal history being major factors in revocation; findings regarding probation stakeholder perceptions of bias in the criminal justice system, higher revocation rates for Black probationers, disparity observed when controlling for nonracial and non-ethical characteristics, and contributors to disparity; discussion and policy implications; and ten policy recommendations such as committing to monitor disparity, investing in cultural competency training (CCT), utilizing alternatives to revocation, and reexamining risk assessments and their impact on decisionmaking.

Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Probation Revocation Cover