California adopted a series of justice system reforms in the 2010s that substantially reduced mass incarceration. Did these reforms also help to reduce long standing racial disparities in state prisons — disparities that reflect the disproportionate incarceration of Black and Latinx residents as well as other Californians of color? This report answers this question by examining changes in state-level incarceration during the 2010s for both men and women through the lens of race and ethnicity. While incarceration declined nearly across the board, by the end of the 2010s men and women of color generally continued to be incarcerated at higher rates than white men and women, and racial disparities generally widened.
Ending racial disparities in incarceration will require sustained efforts — including action from policymakers at all levels of government — to advance antiracist policies that can address the legacy of past discrimination as well as ongoing racism that continues to harm Californians of color, both within and outside of the justice system.