Skip to content
Racial disparity1• Racial 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.
Racial equity2Racial equity means that all racial and ethnic groups have access to the resources and opportunities that they need to live full, healthy lives. The concept of equity acknowledges the role that historical and ongoing structural racism play in creating an unequal playing field.
BIPOCAcronym for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
Systemic racism3 (sometimes referred to as structural or institutional racism)Policies, practices, and institutional norms or culture that create and perpetuate racial inequality across society.
DOC commit status4In Montana, a judge has the option to sentence a person to “DOC commit.” The Montana Department of Corrections (MT DOC) then conducts an assessment and determines where to place the person next; options include a prison term, placement in an alternative secure facility, or community supervision.
Conditional release supervision5• In Montana, a person sentenced to DOC commit status may then be placed on community supervision by MT DOC. When community supervision is the result of an MT DOC placement, it is termed conditional release.
• Conditional release functions day to day just like probation, but revocation decisions are made by MT DOC rather than a judge.
Alternative secure facility6Alternative secure facilities are secure alternatives to prison; they include assessment and sanction centers, treatment centers, and prerelease centers.
Supervision noncompli- ance and compliance violations7• In Montana, there are two types of supervision violations, as defined in 46-18-203, MCA.
• Noncompliance violations are defined as violations related to one of the following five circum- stances: (1) a new offense; (2) possession of a firearm in violation of probation conditions; (3) harassment or other prohibited behavior toward a victim or victim’s family or contacts; (4) absconding; or (5) failure to enroll in or complete a treatment program for sex or violent offenses.
• Compliance violations include a breach of supervision conditions that does not include one of the circumstances that define noncompliance violations.
Probation/conditional release revocation8In Montana, revocation decisions for probation are made by a judge and may result in a continuation of supervision with additional conditions, or a transfer to prison or an alternative secure facility. Revocation decisions for conditional release supervision are made by MT DOC and typically result in a transfer to prison or an alternative secure facility.
IncarcerationIn this analysis, incarceration refers to a sentence or placement in state prison or other secure correctional facility, including alternative secure facilities.
Interstate compact status9In this analysis, interstate compact status refers to supervision cases that originated in a state other than Montana but were transferred to Montana for supervision.
Relative rate index (RRI)10• An RRI is a standardized way to compare the experiences of two groups, e.g., two racial or ethnic groups within the justice system. Typically, a BIPOC group is compared 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 analysis11Statistical method for examining the relationship of one variable to another Regression is helpful for making “apples to apples” comparisons between two groups.
Adjusted RRIAn adjusted RRI represents any difference between groups that remains after accounting for baseline group differences. Regression analysis is used to develop an adjusted RRI.
Predicted outcomeA predicted outcome is a type of output obtained from a regression analysis that describes an outcome (e.g., predicted probability of incarceration, predicted length of stay) based on the measures included in the regression analysis. For regression analysis in this report, predicted outcomes separate the differences in outcomes related to race and ethnicity from the differences that are related to other contextual or individual characteristics (e.g., judicial district, sex, age, criminal history).


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

2. “Equity vs. Equality and Other Racial Justice Definitions,” Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2021, accessed May 28, 2021, racial-justice-definitions/

3. 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. 

4. Montana Department of Corrections, Montana Department of Corrections Adult Male System (Helena, MT: Montana Department of Corrections, 2007); Meeting between The Council of State Governments and Montana Departments of Corrections Probation and Parole Division, November 29, 2021. 

5. Ibid. 

6. “State Owned and Contracted Correctional Facilities,” Montana Department of Corrections, 2021, accessed November 15, 2021, Facilities/Facilities. 

7. See 46-23-1001, MCA, as amended by Sec. 11, Ch. 392, L. 2017; Matthew R. Durose, Alexia D. Cooper, and Howard N. Synder, Recidivism of Prisoners Release in 30 State in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010, (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics), 2014. Note Montana’s distinction between compliance and noncompliance violations makes it difficult to compare precisely to what other states often call technical violations (i.e., violations resulting from a breach of conditions of probation rather than an arrest or conviction for a new criminal offense). While a precise comparison is not possible, Montana’s compliance violations are relatively less serious than noncompliance violations. 

8. Montana Department of Corrections, Montana Department of Corrections Adult Male System (Helena, MT: Montana Department of Corrections, 2007); Meeting between The Council of State Governments and Montana Departments of Corrections Probation and Parole Division, November 29, 2021. 

9. Montana Department of Corrections, MT Department of Corrections Glossary (Helena, MT: Montana Department of Corrections, 2021). 

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

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

^ Back to top