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This report presented findings from an analysis of racial equity in Montana’s criminal justice system between 2016 and 2020, identifying decision-making points where American Indian people fare differently than their White counterparts. Results indicate that among people convicted of certain felony offenses, American Indian people are more likely to face prison time than similarly situated White people; however, there was no observable difference in sentence length imposed for those that received an incarceration sentence. Once incarcerated, evidence indicates that American Indian people serve longer sentences on average than their White counterparts. Finally, there are disparities in the decision to revoke community supervision. American Indian people are more likely than comparable White people to have probation or conditional release revoked. American Indian people are also more likely to face a revocation when on parole, relative to White people. 

Taken together, the racial disparities identified in this analysis highlight a need for changes to policy and practice. CSG Justice Center staff’s recommendations provide data-driven strategies Montana can apply to begin working toward a more equitable justice system. Many of these recommendations involve the collaboration of multiple state entities to understand the fundamental reasons behind the disparities, educate their staff, and consider changes to their practices. As part of this collaboration, Tribal Nations and Tribal stakeholders must be engaged, and equal weight must be given to their input for new racial equity initiatives to succeed.

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