June 18, 2020 – Criminal Justice

Gallup reports fragile communities more likely to experience unfair treatment by police


Gallup and the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO) at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund recently released a set of results from their State of Opportunity in America 2020 report. The report makes it clear the voices of residents of fragile communities must be considered in the nation’s current debate about police and law enforcement reform. (Fragile communities are geographic areas with concentrated poverty and limited access to educational and economic opportunities as determined by U.S. Census data.)

Specifically, Gallup found 43 percent of fragile community residents know a lot or some people who were treated unfairly by the police. As Gallup explained, “While America’s low-income communities as a whole are disproportionately fined, arrested, and incarcerated by the police, racial disparities also exist within fragile community residents’ lived experiences. Black residents are almost twice as likely as white residents in those same communities to know a lot or some people who were treated unfairly by the police, and they are more than twice as likely as white residents to know a lot or some people who were unfairly sent to jail.”

These experiences have bearing on an individual’s confidence, perceptions of their environment, and expectations for their own treatment.

CAO supports faculty and students interested in exploring the removal of barriers to opportunities in fragile communities by making major investments in Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). It has provided support to help HBCUs establish three academic centers so far—the Center for Educational Opportunity at Albany State University, the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston Salem State University, and the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University (TSU).

Each of these centers also recently released new research that explores the challenges and triumphs of individuals living in fragile communities. Albany State’s Center for Educational Opportunity published a paper that highlights the stories of 12 teachers who have found innovative ways to help students in fragile communities succeed. The Center for the Study of Economic Mobility at Winston Salem State University published a policy brief on perceptions of economic barriers to opportunity for Black youth, and TSU’s Center for Justice Research just announced a national police reform advisory group that will provide support for evidence based solutions in policing.

Click here to read more from Gallup about their recent release with CAO.