A memorial for Gorge Floyd, including a portrait and flowers on the sidewalk

Words cannot express the horror of George Floyd’s death, killed by a white police officer on a public street while other officers stood idly by. Nor can mere words calm the outrage or ease the pain caused by Floyd’s death. Or Ahmaud Arbery’s. Or Breonna Taylor’s. Or so, so many others.

The killings of Black and brown Americans and the structural racism in our society that has allowed them to happen, often with total impunity, demand more than words. They demand real, meaningful change.

As a criminal justice reform organization, the Crime and Justice Institute has a role in striving to achieve this change, as well as a responsibility to make it happen. Our mission is to drive bold, transformative improvements in criminal and juvenile justice systems, and to accomplish that goal we must do more to acknowledge and address the profoundly damaging racial inequities so deeply ingrained in our society.  The protests across the country give us hope that we are living in a pivotal moment that is ripe for change.

CJI’s work increases equity in adult and juvenile justice systems through meaningful reforms across the country. We work to create equity across policing, community supervision, and corrections through policy, training, and practice, including examining actuarial assessments for racial bias and monitoring consent decrees to correct unconstitutional practices by police departments. We are committed to doing more to further address racial disparities directly.

Systemic inequities and racism in our nation’s criminal justice system have been hundreds of years in the making. CJI is engaged in internal conversations about ways to use our data-driven, non-partisan policy work and the incredible talent of our staff to address these biases and create a more fair and just system. As we pursue these opportunities, we will listen to and elevate all the voices calling for meaningful criminal justice reform.

CJI shares this commitment to racial justice with our parent organization, Community Resources for Justice. As CRJ President and CEO John Larivee said, George Floyd’s death ‘has once again laid bare the systemic injustice of bias, violence, and intimidation in our government agencies, public services, and laws. Inequality has been allowed for too long – and it must end.’

There can be no ambiguity or equivocation – Black lives matter.”