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State Department Ignores Widespread Racial Injustice

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December 12, 2007

Last April, the State Department submitted a report to the U.N.’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an independent group of experts that oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), a treaty the U.S. signed and ratified in 1994.

Not surprisingly, we found the State Department’s report…lacking. For starters, there was no mention of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the report. And the report finds that the disparities between incarceration rates between whites and minorities was related to criminal activity, which flies in the face of all government and academic studies that find the disparities are due to a criminal justice system that treats minority defendants differently from white defendants.

Laleh Ispahani, Senior Policy Counsel for the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, gives a snapshot of just how poor a job the U.S. government is doing enforcing CERD’s provisions in DailyKos today. She previews what our new report, Race & Ethnicity in America: Turning a Blind Eye to Racial Injustice, says about the current state of racial and ethnic discrimination in the country. It’s not pretty:

The U.S…leads the world in incarcerating men, women and children. The U.S. has only 5 percent of the world’s population, but houses 25 percent of its prisoners. Nationally, according to the 2000 census, the population was 69.1 percent white, 12.5 percent Latino, 12.3 percent black, 3.6 percent Asian, and 0.9 percent American Indian. In 2006, the prison population, by contrast, was roughly 40 percent white, 41.6 percent black and 15.5 percent Latino.

For more, read the full report and check out the podcasts of ACLU attorneys, including Laleh, discussing the highlights at

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