College partners with Florida Senate to address racial & ethnic impact of proposed legislation

Florida Senate

The College of Criminology & Criminal Justice recently entered a partnership with the Florida Senate to analyze the racial and ethnic impact of proposed criminal justice legislation.

Currently, Senate Professional Committee Staff produces a formal bill analysis each time a bill receives a hearing in a Senate Committee. The existing analysis provides a broader context on the wide-ranging impact of a particular bill, addressing topics including fiscal, private sector, and constitutional impacts among others. However, it does not address the racial and ethnic impact of proposed legislation.

In light of the effect criminal justice legislation can have on minorities and minority communities, this lack of consideration was problematic to Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Ocoee) who is heading the current initiative with the support of Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton). Sen. Bracy reached out to Dean Thomas Blomberg and the researchers at the College of Criminology & Criminal Justice to propose a solution.

To address this gap in analysis, the current initiative seeks to measure the racial impact of a policy, and whether a bill possesses a disproportionate impact on a racial or ethnic group and  the extent of that impact. By analyzing publicly available data from state agencies, the College will conduct time-series analysis that will provide forecasts of proposed legislation on various racial and ethnic groups. This analysis will be used for a non-partisan, empirical data-driven “Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement” to address the possible impact proposed legislation can have on a particular racial or ethnic group. Moreover, all of the College’s faculty and numerous graduate and undergraduate students will participant in this major initiative.

“The College is very excited to participate in this new partnership with the Florida Senate,” said Dr. Blomberg. “By providing empirical data and analysis to the Senate, we hope to provide Senators with as much information as possible when making decisions about the impact of criminal justice legislation. This proposal truly brings research to life and is a significant step towards making Florida a premier state for comprehensive racial and ethnic evidence-based analysis of criminal justice legislation.”

For more coverage, please visit the Florida Senate and the Tallahassee Democrat.