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WEEK 3: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Today's topic: Policing
Welcome to week 3 of The Challenge – congrats, you've reached the half-way mark! Studies show that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in prison and jail populations, relative to their numbers in the general population. Similar disparities are found at earlier stages of the criminal justice process, beginning with investigatory stops and arrests by the police. Today we will learn about the damaging and often fatal effects of bias and over-policing.
WE CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE...
In communities in which people have more racial biases, African-Americans are being killed more by police than their presence in the population would warrant. Read this article to see how data is used to pinpoint where disproportionate shootings of minorities are most likely. For more information on the rate of fatal police shootings in our country, see link .
Stanford University researchers found that black and Latino drivers were stopped more often than white drivers, based on less evidence of wrongdoin g. Read this study to understand the evidence that racial bias drives this disparity .
Proponents of police reform advocate for a range of actions designed to improve policing, especially in black and brown communities. Read this article to learn about some of the most commonly proposed reform recommendations. A video of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, discussing how police violence is connected to our country’s history of racial injustice accompanies the article.
Since George Floyd’s death, the call to “defund the police” has been more loudly heard. Read this article to learn what “defund the police” means, and the arguments made by proponents to support this approach to public safety.   
ACT | CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM WEEK
Level I: Think about whether calling the police is the best response in any situation before automatically making the call. Compile and keep a list of local hotlines and services that may be better equipped to respond to situations involving mental health, substance abuse, domestic abuse, homelessness or other social problems. Add these resources to your phone contact list and use them when appropriate.
Level II: Research how the communities that you are a part of interact with police systems: your City, your State, your children's school, your workplace. Do these communities have disparities in arrest rates or incarceration? Do these communities have policies that prevent over-policing or excessive use of force? Are health policies that meet the needs of female inmates in place? Write a letter to the leaders of your communities and share your concerns.
Level III: Find a local reentry program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition to their community upon release and get involved by volunteering or donating in support of their work.
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YWCA St. Paul is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA St. Paul is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.