A new report from The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., shows that Oregon has the seventh highest rate in the country of African-American people incarcerated in its state prisons.
The report said 2,061 black Oregonians are incarcerated per 100,000 black residents. That translates to Oregon’s rate being 46 percent higher than the national average.
In comparison, Oklahoma has the highest rate in the nation. The report shows 2,625 black people incarcerated per 100,000 black residents, while Hawaii has the lowest, at 585 people.
“We have a lot of work to do here in Oregon when it comes to addressing racial and ethnic disparities in our criminal justice system,” said Bobbin Singh, executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, a nonprofit group in Portland.
“I think what the report highlights is that this type of disparity, this type of disproportionate impact, cannot be explained by the offending rate alone, and that’s really important,” said Singh.
Singh said that both explicit and implicit bias are playing into the disparity. This is something he believes Oregon’s criminal justice system needs to both acknowledge and change.
“It really demonstrates that, I think, Oregon’s criminal justice system needs a far deeper evaluation and review of its impact on communities of color,” Singh said.
“We just need to be more aggressive in how we approach this issue and acknowledge that it exists,” Singh said.