Texas Southern University Report Examines Racial Injustice in the Pandemic Era

The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University in Houston and the Black Public Defender Association recently released “Save Black Lives: A Call for Racially-responsive Strategies and Resources for the Black Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The comprehensive report details why public health responses and strategies to address COVID-19 must be centered around race and the criminal legal system.

“This report unpacks the nested structural reality of racial injustice, disciplinary bias, and the lack of attention directed at the practical needs of the historically disenfranchised,” said Howard Henderson, founding director of the Center for Justice Research. “Black people are being infected and dying from COVID-19 at alarming rates. They are also overrepresented in carceral systems that increase their risk of exposure to this deadly virus.”

The report shows that race-neutral responses to the pandemic within the criminal legal system are ineffective, and how they cause harm to Black communities. Solutions to COVID-19 within the criminal legal system should be developed with the expertise of Black public defenders and justice-oriented researchers, who are closest to the problem of mass incarceration and this pandemic.

“Our faculty members at Texas Southern are committed to doing research that directly impacts and transforms the communities we serve,” said Kendall T. Harris, provost and vice president for academic affairs and research at Texas Southern University. This partnership is another example of how we can leverage our research expertise at TSU to help solve the issues of today in a relevant and data-driven manner.”

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