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What are racial and ethnic disparities (RED)? RED refers to racial and ethnic differences in contacts and experiences with the criminal and juvenile justice systems.1,2 Measuring the extent to which RED exist in the justice system is a first step toward identifying the ways to improve upon how well the system upholds the principle of equal treatment under the law.3 Prior research shows that RED are prevalent across multiple points of contact with the juvenile justice system in Nebraska.1,3 There is also a large body of evidence demonstrating RED in the adult criminal justice system nationwide.4 The purpose of this brief is to describe what the data show regarding racial disparities in the state of Nebraska and what is yet to be understood.
Are there racial disparities in arrests in Nebraska? Relative to the racial makeup of the state population, there is significant disparity in the racial composition of the arrests in each year from 2014 to 2019.5,6 Inequity for African Americans is the largest contributor to the overall disparity. As shown in Figure 1, from 2014 to 2019, African Americans made up approximately 5% of the state population but accounted for 17.45–20.82% of arrests. American Indians/Alaskan Natives were also overrepresented in arrests (3.23–3.59%) relative to their portion the population (approximately 1%). Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in all six years.
Butler, Leah C.; Spohn, Ryan E.; Schafer, Josie Gatti; and Kiper, Melanie, "RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN NEBRASKA" (2020). Publications since 2000. 520.