Ark. Black Caucus seeks racial impact statements

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Members of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus say they want proposals aimed at creating new criminal offenses or changing sentencing laws to include a study of how they will impact racial minorities in the state.

At their weekly meeting on Monday, lawmakers in the caucus said that much like fiscal impact statements are required for bills that affect the state's finances, they plan to push for racial impact statements to be issued for criminal justice bills.

Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliot said the goal is to educate lawmakers on the potential unintended consequences of bills, citing the racial disparity in the state's prison population, a trend that is mirrored in other states and on the federal level. She said she plans to file legislation by mid-March to require racial impact statements.

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