The ACLU has been working for racial justice since the founding of the organization in 1920. The ACLU of Oregon’s racial justice work cuts across many areas, including criminal justice, education, free speech, immigrants’ rights, national security, police practices and religious freedom.
Guaranteeing liberty and justice for all requires us to address not only overt discrimination, but also those government policies and practices that result in disproportionate impacts related to race and ethnicity. For example, data collected over many years by some Oregon police agencies consistently has shown that African-American and Latino drivers stopped for traffic violations are more likely to be subjected to discretionary searches by police officers, but that police are less likely to find evidence of a crime in those searches than when the vehicles of white drivers are searched. This type of racial profiling may or may not be intentional on the part of police officers, but the impact on real people is harsh and inequitable.
Similar disparities exist throughout the educational and criminal justice systems in Oregon. Indeed, the ACLU’s review of discipline in Oregon public schools has shown that many students of color are more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white counterparts, and a similarly disproportionate number of students of color are tangled in our youth justice system. We refer to this trend as the school-to-prison pipeline.
July 1, 2013 – The ACLU Foundation of Oregon today issued a follow-up report confirming that many students of color in Oregon public schools continue to be more frequently expelled or suspended than their white peers.
The ACLU report, based on 2011-12 data reported by school districts to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), indicates that the statewide disparity is most dramatic for African-American students. For example, African-American students represent 2.5% of the student population statewide, but received 6.5% of all out-of-school suspensions.