Washington Law Review


We are pleased to present the Preliminary Report on Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System, authored by the Research Working Group of the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System. The Research Working Group’s mandate was to investigate disproportionalities in the criminal justice system and, where disproportionalities existed, to investigate possible causes. This factbased inquiry was designed to serve as a basis for making recommendations for changes to promote fairness, reduce disparity, ensure legitimate public safety objectives, and instill public confidence in our criminal justice system. The Task Force came into being after a group of us met to discuss remarks on race and crime reportedly made by two sitting justices on the Washington State Supreme Court. This first meeting was attended by representatives from the Washington State Bar Association, the Washington State Access to Justice Board, the commissions on Minority and Justice and Gender and Justice, all three Washington law schools, leaders from nearly all of the state’s specialty bar associations, and other leaders from the community and the bar. We agreed that we shared a commitment to ensure fairness in the criminal justice system. We developed working groups, including the Research Working Group, whose Preliminary Report finds that race and racial bias affect outcomes in the criminal justice system and matter in ways that are not fair, that do not advance legitimate public safety objectives, and that undermine public confidence in our criminal justice system.

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