From a Public Policy/Justice system perspective, there are clear inequities. SDEP began our Project with a clear understanding that the issue of racial equity was a key factor we would address.
Our partners, including leading state justice think tanks and advocacy organizations, are identifying the public policies that impede progress, and are working to change them. We are also dedicated to promoting policies that can improve or provide opportunities.
There are 1,000+ laws in Texas that impede justice involved populations, while the Texas rate of incarceration significantly exceeds the U.S. For each 100,000, the rate is 694 if White; 1,152 if Hispanic; and 3,734 if Black. African Americans are 39% of the Prison Population but only 12% of the general population. 7 of 10 prisoners are African American or Hispanic. 1 in 3 working age Texans have a record, meaning that 1/3 of our workforce has a record and is disproportionately African American or Hispanic.
We have taken several aggressive steps. We recruited organizational partners that truly serve the area; that are “boots on the ground". More than 60% are led by individuals of color. SDEP has formed a Public Policy Committee, inclusive of the states leading justice involved think tanks and advocacy groups, to identify the most impactful issues to achieve Justice Reform. That has led to an approach to seek Texas adoption of “Clean Slate”, based on establishing parameters that enable individuals with a record to seek expungement, if they meet state adopted criteria.
SDEP continuously provides our 100+ partners with information on related public policy issues, racial equity education, and training. We also work with them to conduct racial equity audits, to help them examine their Agency through a racial equity lens. Rather than simply providing racial justice training, we are building a Model that systemically embraces justice and racial equity as core principles of the Project's Culture.