Holder Announces Project to Study Law Enforcement Bias Against Minorities

The $4.75 million project aims to reduce disproportionately high level of discrimination against young men of color.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday in his weekly video address a plan to collect data about stops, searches and arrests in an effort to reduce bias against minorities. The National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice is a $4.75 million initiative created in response to the call President Obama made after the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the DOJ to find ways to reduce tensions between law enforcement and minority communities.

“Racial disparities contribute to tension in our nation generally and within communities of color specifically, and tend to breed resentment towards law enforcement that is counterproductive to the goal of reducing crime,” Holder said in a video to announce the project. “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.”

According to Holder, a recent study found that in 2012, African-American and Latino men were six times and 2.6 times, respectively, more likely to be imprisoned than white men. In addition, half of African-American men have been arrested at least once by the time they turn 23.

"This over-representation of young men of color in our criminal justice system is a problem we must confront — not only as an issue of individual responsibility but also as one of fundamental fairness, and as an issue of effective law enforcement," Holder said. 

The attorney general said that in addition to collecting and analyzing data, the project will include anti-gang and mentoring projects in an effort to "break the cycle of poverty, incarceration and crime" that too often plagues young African-American and Latino males.

Follow Joyce Jones on Twitter: @BETpolitichick.

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(Photo: Courtesy of The United States Department of Justice)

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