Today, Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) introduced the "The Wayne Ford Federal Racial Impact Statement Act of 2022," calling on lawmakers and agencies to take a comprehensive approach when considering enacting new laws and/or policies.
Racial Impact statements are assessments that help criminal justice policymakers determine whether pending bills, if enacted, are likely to create or exacerbate disparate outcomes among people of different races or ethnicities. Racial and ethnic impact statements give elected officials tools to make informed decisions and allow voters to hold officials accountable for those decisions.
The act would provide a tool for lawmakers and Federal agencies to determine whether pending bills and proposed rules, if enacted, would create, or exacerbate disparate outcomes among racial or ethnic minority groups.
"For far too long our judicial system and policies have disproportionately negatively impacted black and brown communities," said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). Racial Impact Statements serve as a crucial tool to help ensure that new legislation and policies do not disproportionately have an adverse effect on black and brown communities. It also is a vital step in reversing the systematic inequalities that lie in our communities."
Under this bill, the Comptroller General, who leads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), would consult with the Sentencing Commission to prepare an impact assessment prior to floor consideration of the bill or within 21 days of a request. The impact statement would detail what impact, positive or negative, the bill would have on minority communities, the projected fiscal impact, and the projected effects on correctional facility, pretrial, prison, probation, and post-prison supervision populations.
This bill is named in memorial of Iowa state Representative Wayne Ford, who advocated for and passed the first racial impact statement legislation in the country in Iowa. Prior to Rep. Ford's bill in 2008, Black Iowans were 13.6 times more likely to be imprisoned than white residents. That ratio has since declined to 9 to 1 after the use of racial impact statements informed lawmakers on drug-sentencing proposals.
"I am honored and proud that US Representative Ritchie Torres is naming the Racial Impact Statement legislation after me, Wayne Ford. In 2008, I authored the Iowa Racial Impact Statement legislation that made Iowa the first state in America to implement this groundbreaking and historic legislation. I am elated that US Representative Ritchie Torres will be introducing this legislation at the federal level. I have no doubt that this legislation will continue the journey of making America more equitable, as the Racial Impact Statement legislation movement at the state level has been doing," said Former Iowa State Representative Wayne Ford.