The Department of Justice today released its Equity Action Plan, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
The Justice Department’s mission is to ensure equal justice under law. The Equity Action Plan builds on this mission by utilizing resources across the Department to advance equity for underserved communities nationwide. The Equity Action Plan focuses on prioritizing equity and increasing opportunity in five key areas: federal financial assistance, access to grants, language access, stakeholder engagement, and contracting and procurement.
Underserved communities, especially communities of color, experience higher rates of violent crime, especially hate crimes and gun violence, which have devastating effects on victims, their families, and their communities. Such violence affects Black youth, men, and women and other communities of color at disproportionate rates, and is highest in racially segregated, high poverty neighborhoods. The Department has dedicated substantial resources to combating violent crime and gun violence through both vigorous law enforcement efforts and significant investments in evidence-based community programs, such as community-based violence intervention, that can help disrupt violence and strengthen communities. The Equity Action Plan will use cross-departmental resources to aid communities that have experienced inequity, disparity, grief, and adversity, often attributed to violent crime.
“Improving access to Justice Department programs and services is critical to ensuring equal justice under law and promoting public safety,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Department’s Equity Action Plan is designed to increase equity, opportunity, and resources to our most vulnerable communities.”
In order to address the key areas established in the Equity Action Plan, the Department has identified the following action items:
- Leverage federal funds provided by the Department to (a) encourage grantees to include equity considerations in the provision of federally funded services, (b) enhance data collection to identify and take action to address disparities in access to the Department’s programs or services based on demographic factors, and (c) better ensure that grantees are complying with non-discrimination mandates;
- Improve access to funding opportunities for organizations that are led by, or primarily serve, historically marginalized and underserved populations;
- Reduce language barriers that make it difficult for individuals with limited English proficiency to access Department programs or activities, communicate public safety concerns, or vindicate their rights;
- Improve the Department’s engagement with stakeholders in underserved communities and disadvantaged groups in order to establish enduring relationships with them and enhance the public’s awareness of the Department’s expansive mission and resources; and
- Increase opportunities for small businesses located in Historically Underutilized Business Zones to secure Department contracts.
Since Jan. 20, 2021, the Department has taken many steps to advance equity for marginalized communities, including by combating hate crimes and hate incidents, revitalizing the Community Relations Service, re-establishing the Office for Access to Justice, ensuring non-discrimination in federal grants, expanding language access, and reforming law enforcement practices. The Department’s Equity Action Plan will build on these ongoing efforts.