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Arrest Demographics


We are safe, just, & engaged.

We are free from abuse, neglect, crime,
violence, and injustice.

Arrests are not proportionate for all races in Travis County.

Indicator: Proportionality of arrest demographics in Travis County to overall population

Goal: To be determined

Target: To be determined

Significance of Indicator: The Texas Center for the Elimination of Disproportionality & Disparities states that disproportionality is the overrepresentation of a particular race or cultural group in a particular program or system. This phenomenon has been documented for decades in different programs. The causes of disproportionality are complex and cross many social systems.

what the data tell us

Arrests of African Americans and Hispanics were disproportionately high in Travis County in 2010. African Americans, for example, accounted for only 8% of the adult population but 23% of arrests.

Definition: Number of bookings into the Travis County jail for each racial/ethnic group divided by the total number of bookings into the Travis County jail; the population of each racial/ethnic group that is 18 and older divided by the total 18 and over population in 2010

Data Source: Travis County Criminal Justice Planning Department, American Community Survey

Data Considerations: Persons 17 and older may be booked into the Travis County jail. Solid estimates of the population of 17 years olds by race/ethnicity are not available on a yearly basis, and so 17 year olds are not included in the population data.

the story behind the indicator

Racial and ethnic disproportionality in arrests is just one example of disproportionality in our community. For example, the report Breaking Schools' Rules: A Statewide Study on How School Discipline Relates to Students' Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement, found that, across the State of Texas, African American students were suspended or expelled from school at exceptionally high rates. The report found a high correlation between these school referrals and later Juvenile Justice System involvement. Child Protective Services is grappling with high removal rates of African American children from their homes. There are systemic factors tied to disproportionate impacts and a cross-cutting approach across systems is required to create equity and fairness. To learn more about the story behind disproportionality in our community, click here.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

  • The Travis County District Attorney's Office, Austin ISD, and Travis County Juvenile Probation have convened a work group to examine local data and to review best practices for impacting some of the findings in the Breaking Schools' Rules report.
  • The Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, was created in 2011 to address disproportionality found in many state social service systems.
  • Local law enforcement entities have implemented multiple outreach strategies to work with minority youth in the community including utilizing school resource officers, Police Activity Leagues, Police Explorer programs, and prevention activities associated with the Joint Juvenile Gang Unit (Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff's Office and AISD).
  • The Texas Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, was created in 2011 as a result of Senate Bill 501. The Center is using a comprehensive approach that cuts across systems to reduce disparate outcomes for vulnerable populations.
  • Hays CISD, Leander ISD, Pflugerville ISD, San Marcos CISD, and Round Rock ISD have implemented Positive Behavior Supports to help reduce disproportionate school discipline referrals. Austin ISD is using a similar approach that blends aspects of Positive Behavior Supports with Response to Intervention, a framework that pairs high quality instruction with interventions matched to students' educational needs.
  • The Austin Independent School District (AISD) has begun a process to examine the 500+ yearly discretionary removals of students from classrooms for offenses that are considered to be non-dangerous. The Superintendent of has directed that, beginning next school year, there will be no discretionary removals except in cases where a student may be a danger to self or others. The district is considering new approaches that may be taken as a student's removal from the classroom may increase their chance of dropping out of school. Austin ISD has also issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a private vendor or charter school to potentially take on the management of AISD's alternative learning center (ALC) in hopes that in the future the ALC may be improved. The RFP will be awarded by next school year.

a closer look at the story behind the indicator:

Click on one of the titles below for more information.

» Disciplinary Rate Demographics for AISD Compared to Student Demographics, 2010-2011 School Year

In general, disciplinary rates continue to decrease across instructional levels, disciplinary actions, and disaggregated groups, but the disciplinary action rates of African American students continue to be greater than their peers. During the 2010-2011 school year, African Americans constituted 24% of removals to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEP), but only 10% of the student population.

Click on graph to view a data table of this information.

Definition: The number of DAEP placements for each individual race/ethnicity divided by the total number of DAEP placements and the number of students of each individual race/ethnicity divided by the total number of students. Mandatory removals are offenses committed by a student that requires that a student be removed to the DAEP. Examples may include: engaging in conduct punishable as a felony, committing assault with injury, selling or possessing a controlled substance, possessing a bb gun, air gun or a home made weapon, repeated gang related activity. Discretionary removals give the campus administrators the option of removing the student to the alternative learning center or keeping him or her enrolled in the home campus. Examples may include: involved in serious misbehavior (offenses that pose physical danger to the student, others or property) or persistent misbehavior (two or more violations of the student code of conduct in general or repeated occurrences of the same violation), involved in a gang or soliciting another person to become a member of a gang (1st offense).

Data Source: Texas Education Agency

Data Considerations: Population and disciplinary rates for Pacific Islanders are not reported on this graph due to low numbers.

» Difference between African American and Anglo Child Removal Rates

In 2005, African Americans in Travis County were removed from their homes by Child Protection Services (CPS) 1.5% more than White children. By 2008, that number had declined to 0.8%.

Data Considerations: The difference between African Americans and Whites in proportion of CPS's decisions to remove children from their homes.

Data Source: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Data Considerations: The data from 2005 was collected at a time before CPS began implementing strategies to reduce disproportionality of removals. The data from 2008 was collected after CPS had already begun implementing such strategies.

vulnerable populations

turning the curve

Reducing Arrest Disproportionality:
The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan and the FY2012 to FY2015 Travis County Community Plan for Coordination of Criminal Justice and Related Activities recommend increased contact between law enforcement and community members to build trust and promote long-term cooperation. The two plans also recommend that criminal justice agencies collaborate more intensely with other community stakeholders such as government agencies to provide seamless services.

The Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan further recommends that the assignments of public safety professionals in given geographic areas be extended in order to build stronger community relationships.

Reducing Disproportionality Across Systems: