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Racial Impact Statements

An increasingly important tool in policy advocacy, state policy racial impact statements offer analysis on the likelihood that pending bills, if enacted, will create or exacerbate racial disparities.

Born in the early 2000s out of efforts to more effectively address equity in criminal justice, racial impact statements are becoming an effective tool across state policy for demonstrating how proposals that seem neutral and “fair” can yield disparate and decidedly unfair outcomes. Instead of focusing on a bill or two to increase racial equity, racial impact statements give us a way to ensure all bills increase equity.

State Legislation:

Iowa passed the first law for “Minority Impact Statements” in 2008.

Colorado does Demographic Notes for certain bills.

Connecticut does Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements

In Florida, a member of the legislature may request to the Office of Policy Analysis and Government Accountability for an estimate of how proposed legislation would change the racial and ethnic composition of the criminal offender population or recipients or human services, as well as an estimate of the racial and ethnic composition of the crime victims who may be affected by legislation.

A Maine legislative subcommittee studied the issue then produced a report recommending a pilot process for racial equity impact statements. 

Maryland does Racial Equity Impact Notes for criminal justice bills.

In Minnesota, a legislator may request a statement on a proposed crime bill if it meets certain thresholds. the statement is a before-and-after demographic group comparison of the number of offenders that may be convicted or imprisoned under the new crime bill if enacted and percentage change over prior years.

New Jersey does Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements for bills pertaining to sentencing.

Oregon does Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements for bills related to crime.

Virginia passed legislation that requires Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements for criminal justice bills.

Learn more about our racial equity initiative.

In-Depth Resources:

Leveraging Racial Impact Statements to Achieve Racial Equity in All Policies: National Context

Children’s Defense Fund of NY — This resource from the Children’s Defense Fund of NY summarizes the national context around state-level racial equity impact statement legislation as of January 2021.

Iowa: The Promise of Racial Impact Statements — Findings from a Case Study of Minority Impact Statements in Iowa

National Juvenile Justice Network — This deep case study of Iowa’s implementation of minority impact statements presents the history, context, and lessons learned about the efficacy of these legislative tools. (October 2020)

Nebraska: Legislative Rules Committee Considers Racial Impact Statements for Bills

Lincoln Journal Star — Rules changes proposed in the Nebraska legislature would require a racial impact statement for any bill that significantly affects criminal or juvenile justice, but would allow a committee chairman or bill sponsor to request a statement regardless of the bill's subject matter. (October 2019)

Can Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements Address Inequity in Criminal Justice Policy?

Urban Institute — This blog post offer a quick overview of the origins of racial impact statements in criminal justice. (February 2018)