In July 2020, Chancellor Jones announced a $2 million annual commitment by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to focus the intellectual and scholarly talent of our university to examine two of the greatest challenges facing our society and seek new solutions.
For 2022, the Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Program will focus on three critical research areas that are currently the most important and complex challenges facing local communities, states, and our nation:
- Systemic racism and social justice
- Law enforcement and criminal justice reform
- Disparities in health and health care
Two of the projects that have received funding for 2022-2023 are being led by College of Law faculty.
Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson is a co-lead on "Closing the Racial Disparity Gap in Juveniles Transferred to Adult Court." This project will collect data from case files of all juveniles who were transferred to adult court from years 2019-2022. Black youth are disproportionately transferred to adult court, which is known to have a negative impact on youth who lose the protections of the juvenile system. This project investigates whether Black youth are disproportionately transferred when other factors are held constant such as number of prior charges, severity of offense, and age. Furthermore, the project investigates whether accomplice liability laws, which assume culpability of all youth present during an incident, are disproportionately affecting Black youth and represent a form of structural racism. The data generated in this project will be novel and have high potential for policy changes that lead to more equitable outcomes in the juvenile justice system.
Professor Jennifer Robbennolt is a co-lead on "Creating a Sustainable and Continuously-Updating Registry of Police Shootings for Every Community in Illinois." Communities throughout Illinois are calling for reforms to address racial inequities in police uses of force. But without clear data that clarify the nature and extent of these racial disparities, it has been difficult to drive a productive conversation on reform efforts that addresses the concerns of Illinois communities, clarifies how well or poorly local law enforcement agencies are performing, and assesses whether recent reform efforts have been producing desired results. This project fills all three gaps by creating localized, nearly real-time data to support evidenced-based reforms. Building on a project funded last year with Call to Action resources that accurately reports racial information for every police-involved shooting in the state of Illinois between 2014 and 2020, this new project will build a sustainable and continuously updated data system that reports these incidents in nearly real time from 2021 forward. This dashboard will allow citizens of Illinois to benchmark local levels of police-involved lethal force against statewide averages, compare local agencies to others in the state, and identify racial disparities in lethal force incidents. The dashboard will permit citizens to monitor and continuously assess lethal force encounters with the ultimate goal of holding police accountable to the communities they serve.
Read about all of the projects funded for 2022-2023.