Skip to content
Racial disparity1Racial disparity refers to any situation in which different racial groups experience unequal treatment or outcomes.
Evidence of disparity is distinct from understanding the processes that contribute to it.
BIPOCAcronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
Systemic racism2 (sometimes referred to as structural or institutional racism)Policies, practices, and institutional norms or culture that create and perpetuate racial inequality across society
Criminal offense levels: misdemeanor and felony3In Vermont, misdemeanor offenses are those for which the maximum penalty is up to two years of incarceration. Felony offenses are those for which the maximum penalty is more than two years of incarceration, a life sentence, or a death sentence.
Case disposition4A criminal charge or case disposition is the final status or determination about that charge/case.
In Vermont, criminal case dispositions are recorded as resulting in a conviction, acquittal, dismissal (e.g., evidence is lacking to move the case forward), or having been transferred to another venue (e.g., juvenile court).
Conviction5A conviction indicates that a court has found a defendant guilty of a crime. In the U.S., a conviction is typically reached via a plea bargain, or, less commonly, via a jury trial.
Incarceration in/out sentencing decisionIn this report, this term refers to whether a person’s sentence includes incarceration or not (typically, the alternative is community supervision).
Deferred sentence6In Vermont, when a person is convicted of certain crimes, the court has the option to place that person on probation and make a deferred sentencing agreement. If terms of the agreement are met, the original conviction is automatically expunged.
Suspended sentence7In Vermont, when a person is convicted of a crime, in certain cases, the court may impose a sentence that includes a prison term with a portion suspended. The suspended time may then be served on probation under supervision of the Department of Corrections.
Pre-approved furlough8In Vermont, when a person is convicted of a crime, in certain cases, the court mayimpose pre-approved furlough. This means the person can serve time in the community—instead of prison—typically in a work or treatment program administered by the Department of Corrections.
Relative rate index (RRI)9An RRI is a standardized way to compare the experiences of different racial or ethnic groups within the justice system, typically by comparing a BIPOC group to a White group.An RRI greater than 1 indicates worse outcomes for the BIPOC group relative to the White group; an RRI lower than 1 indicates better outcomes for the BIPOC group.
Regression analysis10Statistical method for examining the relationship of one variable to another.Regression is helpful for making “apples to apples” comparisons between two groups.


1. Rowena Fong, Ruth McRoy, and Alan Dettlaff, “Disproportionality and Disparities,” Encyclopedia of Social Work, June 2, 2014; accessed June 15, 2020,

2. Matthew Clair and Jeffrey S. Denis, “Sociology of Racism” in The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences,
2nd edition, Volume 19, ed. James D. Wright (Elsevier Ltd., 2015), 857–863.

3. “Vermont Statutes Online: 13 VSA § 1 Felonies and misdemeanors defined,” Vermont General Assembly, 2021, accessed June 14, 2021,

4. “FindLaw Legal Dictionary: Disposition,” FindLaw by Thomas Reuters, 2021, accessed August 10, 2021,

5. “FindLaw Legal Dictionary: Conviction,” FindLaw by Thomas Reuters, 2021, accessed August 10, 2021,; Lindsey Devers, Plea and Charge Bargaining: Research Summary (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2011).

6. “Vermont Statutes Online: 13 VSA § 7041 Deferred sentence.”

7. “FindLaw Legal Dictionary: What is a Suspended Sentence?” FindLaw by Thomas Reuters, 2021, accessed August 10, 2021,; meeting between The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Vermont Judiciary, July 15, 2021.

8. Jacqueline Salvi et al., “Vermont Justice Reinvestment II Working Group Meeting” (PowerPoint presentation, Vermont Justice Reinvestment Initiative II, December 16, 2019).

9. Development Services Group, Inc., Disproportionate Minority Contact (Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014),

10. Roxy Peck, Chris Olsen,and Jay L.Devore, Introduction to Statistics and Data Analysis, 5th Edition (Boston: Cengage Learning, 2016).

^ Back to top