Court and Community News

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020
Gants and Carey Statements in Response to the Release of Harvard Law School's Report on Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System

newsfromcourtsSupreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey have issued the following statements in response to the issuance of Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Criminal System, a report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School. In his 2016 State of the Judiciary Address, Chief Justice Gants discussed "the great disparity in the rates of imprisonment among Whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics in this Commonwealth," and announced that then-Dean Martha Minow at Harvard Law School had agreed to his request to gather an independent research team to explore the reasons for these disparities. This report is the culmination of that four-year research project undertaken by Harvard Law School researchers.  

"This impressive report will provide us with important guidance as we work to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the Massachusetts criminal justice system," said Chief Justice Gants. "It is a 'must read' for anyone who is committed to understanding the reasons for such disparities and taking action to end them.

"On behalf of the Supreme Judicial Court and our entire judicial system, I would like to thank the team at Harvard Law School for all the research and analysis that produced this report," he added. "I am grateful to former Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow for graciously agreeing to undertake this project in 2016; to Professor Carol Steiker, Faculty Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program (CJPP), for her leadership; to Brook Hopkins, CJPP's Executive Director, and researchers Elizabeth Tsai Bishop, Chijindu Obiofuma, and Felix Owusu for their work on this report; and to all those who collaborated with them."

"This report will help us continue to move forward in our ongoing efforts to root out racial and ethnic bias and inequity in our criminal justice system," said Chief Justice Carey. "I am grateful to the Harvard team for their extensive efforts, and to those who worked with them to provide the underlying data and information, especially Lee Kavanagh and Melaine Malcolm at the Trial Court's Department of Research and Planning."