In recent weeks there has been a spark lit under our criminal justice system. The world is calling louder than ever for social justice reform and an end to systemic racism in America. The inequality facing the black community is again being magnified, but the issue has been around for generations. Decades of black oppression, from voter suppression to police brutality have led us to this point. George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbory, and countless others have died because of a long-existing systemic problem. We agree that the time has come for systemic change. We stand against racism and will do our part to be a force for positive change.
Consider the Data
There is no questioning the large disparity between the treatment of black and white individuals in our criminal justice system: black people are three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white people. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, where we do most of our work here at BasilData, the ratio of incarcerated African Americans to white Americans is over 11:1. The average black to white incarceration ratio in the nation is more than 5:1.
Today these systemic racial issues have led to 2.2 million individuals incarcerated. People of color represent about 31.7% of the total US population but 67% of the prison population. That breaks down to 1 in every 17 black men aged 30-34 and 1 in every 42 Hispanic men. At these rates, a black male born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of being sent to prison in his lifetime. To say the least, this is a tragedy in the “land of the free”.
Creating Real Change
Within the last few weeks, we have seen unprecedented developments as a response to the protests in over 400 cities and outward show of support from celebrities and corporations.
In Minneapolis, the state has charged all 4 officers involved with differing degrees of aiding the murder of George Floyd. The city council has agreed to dismantle the police department. We have seen contracts from the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department canceled with the MPD. This all while the third week of protests continue in Minneapolis.
In other cities around the country, criminal justice reform has been gaining traction for the last few years. In 2017, New Jersey eliminated mandatory cash bail with the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act. This has kept 3000 fewer black individuals, 1500 fewer white individuals, and 1300 fewer Hispanic individuals from pretrial incarceration due to an inability to pay bail. The data also confirms a decrease in the violent and nonviolent crime rates in the state since this bill was passed.
Programs will need to be implemented broadly and measured closely to tackle the equity disparity. In order to make continued improvements, these broad changes are necessary, not only in criminal justice reform but within our education systems, housing, healthcare, and employment as well.
Basil Data Commitment
Our company was born out of the idea that data could advance the most important projects to benefit the world. And it would be untenable if we didn’t do our part to utilize our expertise and passion to embolden this Black Lives Matter movement.
Basil Data will first look inward for change. We commit to representing the diverse population of the US. This means adding people of color to our executive board and team as we grow. We will continue to select projects that directly benefit black communities. We will include gathering direct feedback from minority community members as we continue to work with foundations and small organizations. And of course, we will commit to having hard conversations, while educating our audience with real, relevant data.
As we push forward through this time, we encourage a better understanding of the unfair treatment of black Americans and the broken system we are operating in. We encourage peaceful protests and using your voice and your craft to take a stance. We are anxious to see the changes occur due to these powerful voices with a common goal. Yet, we know we can, and must, do more to support equity for our black and brown communities.
The Basil Data Team
Keep up with the movement through the links in the post and the links below to learn more. To follow Basil Data please connect with us on Linkedin.