Google is handing out $11.5 million in grants to organizations combating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, double what it has given so far.
And, in keeping with a company built on information, the latest wave of grants target organizations that crunch data to pinpoint problems and propose solutions.
"There is significant ambiguity regarding the extent of racial bias in policing and criminal sentencing," says Justin Steele, principal with Google.org, the Internet giant's philanthropic arm. "We must find ways to improve the accessibility and usefulness of information."
Among the organizations receiving funds from Google.org is the Center for Policing Equity, a national research center that collaborates with police departments and the communities they serve to track statistics on law enforcement actions, from police stops to the use of force. In addition to the grant of $5 million, Google engineers will put their time and skills to work on improving the center's national database.
"It's hard to measure justice," says Phillip Atiba Goff, the center's co-founder and president. "In policing, data are so sparse and they are not shared broadly. The National Justice Database is an attempt to measure justice so that people who want to do the right thing can use that metric to lay out a GPS for getting where we are trying to go. That's really what we see Google as being a key partner in helping us do."