Equity and Criminal Justice

SAVI Talks - November 18, 2021

An individual’s interaction with the criminal justice system is not necessarily a random event: Research shows that beginning from birth, various factors including disability, race, gender, and economic status result in disproportionate impact on subpopulations in a way that makes them more likely to engage with the criminal justice system. These factors, and policies that alleviate or compound existing inequities will be examined using the Cradle to Prison Pipeline framework. 

This report examines a concept called the “cradle to prison pipeline.” It is a review of some of the basic statistics at each stage of this pipeline: childhood, school, juvenile justice, early adulthood, and imprisonment. For each stage, we present basic trends and disparities across race, place, gender, and other demographic variables.

Research has shown that highlighting racial disparities can actually increase support for policies that perpetuate inequality, such as “stop and frisk.” With caution, this report maintains a focus on disparities, particularly between Black and white residents, because those are indicative of problems within systems and not the inherent criminality of individuals or populations.

Black and white jail population per 100,000 people age 15-64 (five-year average)


Marion County

Community Trends Report

SAVI Talks Presentation

Introduction & Report Presentation:

Panel Discussion & Closing Remarks:

Articles and Story Maps

Explore other research and interactive content we have developed around equity.

Story Map: Race and Migration Since 1970

In 1970, half of the region’s Black population lived in 12 square miles north of downtown Indianapolis. As Black residents moved into ’60s suburban communities, 120,000 White residents left the city’s core for newer suburbs.

Are We Segregated by Educational Attainment?

Most neighborhoods match the educational diversity of our region, but those with less education are largely excluded from downtown and the northern suburbs, while they are relatively isolated in the southeast side and parts of Anderson.


Sharon Kandris
Associate Director,
The Polis Center

Jay Colbert,
Data Manager,
The Polis Center

Jeramy Townsley,
Visiting Research Analyst,
The Polis Center

Matt Nowlin,
Research Analyst,
The Polis Center

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