Google Doubling Down on Criminal Justice Reform Investment

March 05, 2017 by

In a blog post, Google.org Principal, Justin Steele, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to reforming the criminal justice system in this country and pledged another $11.5 million in grants to organizations aimed at tackling this problem.

Google.org is the charitable arm of search engine and software giant. The charity has donated money to a variety of causes with education opportunity and racial justice being two of their bigger endeavors. Recently, the organization gave $250,000 to organizations helping out residents during the Flint Water Crisis.

“Mass incarceration is a huge issue in the United States, and a major area of focus for our grants. The U.S. penal population has exploded, growing by 400 percent since 1984 to more than 2 million today, with black men sentenced at over five times the rate of white men,” Steele’s blog post reads. “We have the highest rate of incarceration in the world, dwarfing the rates of every developed country and even surpassing those in highly repressive regimes.”

Steele goes on to discuss a hot topic in many urban communities: police-involved shootings.

Citing the lack of national data on police behavior and criminal sentencing due to a disconnect between various agencies and courts, they hope their investment will help address that problem. They are investing in organizations that are using data to address and reduce racial disparities in policing.

“We are giving $5 million to support the Center for Policing Equity (CPE), which partners with police agencies and communities by bringing together data science, trainings, and policy reforms to address racial disparity.”

CPE is the same organization that worked with the Austin Police Department to compile data on disparities in their policing.

Google.org is also giving $1.5 million to Measures for Justice, which is working on a snapshot tool that allows an individual to view how their local justice system treats people based on offense history and across various categories. W. Haywood Burns Institute is receiving $500,000 to help ensure that California’s 58 counties have access to policing data so organizations can make informed decisions.

Impact Justice will receive a $1 million grant to work on Restorative Justice as they try to keep nearly 2,000 youth out of the juvenile justice system.

To boost their efforts, JustLeadershipUSA will receive $650,000 to grow a national network of formerly incarcerated leaders to lead local, state, and national reform efforts.

Additionally, Defy Ventures, Center for Employment Opportunities, Silicon Valley De-Bug, and Code for America will all receive aid in easing reentry for those who were once incarcerated and are now seeking gainful employment.

Steele’s post closed with this statement:

“A person’s race should not determine how they are treated by the law. We’re proud to support these organizations, and we hope that their focus on data and community-driven solutions will bring us closer to a more just society.”

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About the Author

Charles operates the Houston office for Empower Texans/Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.