There’s more to learn by reading books, reports, and articles related to racial injustice in our policing, courts, and prison systems.  Here’s our list, some in print, some online. You may want to also check the very comprehensive list of Resources compiled by the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights in their New Era of Public Safety report.

If you have additional reading to suggest, please contact us.


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
By Michelle Alexander

Police Accountability: The Role of Citizen Oversight
By Samuel Walker

The New World of Police Accountability
By Samuel Walker and Carol A. Archbold

Suspect Citizens — What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race
Frank R. Baumgartner, Derek A. App and Kelsey Shoub

Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs All of Us and How We Can Prosper Together
Heather McGhee


21st Century Policing Solutions Report on Des Moines Police Department (November 2023)

At the end of 2023, 21CP Solutions (21CP) published a report assessing the Des Moines Police Department (DMPD). The need for improved data collection on all police stops, officer use of force, as well as the need for increased transparency and community engagement were among key findings by 21CP.  The report offers 46 recommendations for improving the policy, practices, training, and culture of the DMPD.

Read the Report

Task Force on 21st Cen

In their study, 21CP Solutions made numerous comments about the broken relationship between the activist community and the DMPD.  Recommendation #35 states the following: 

“DMPD and Chief Wingert should consider a formal initiative to reboot official communications structures and systems to develop a good working relationship with good community groups that helped prompt this assessment (meaning Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement and Just Voices).”

tury Policing: A Renewed Call to Action (2023)

On April 25th, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, released a new report called “21CP Solutions. 2023. Task Force on 21st Century Policing: A Renewed Call to Action. Chicago: 21CP Solutions, LLC.”

As you may know, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing was established by Executive Order under then President Barack Obama on December 18, 2014. President Obama charged the task force with identi­fying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. Since the publication of the task force’s final report in May 2015, there have been more than 133 national, state, or local task forces, councils, and working groups responding to police violence in communities throughout the country.

On February 2, 2023, former task force co-chairs Laurie Robinson and Charles Ramsey convened former task force members to discuss the current crisis of confidence in policing. 1

Read it here.

1 National Policing Institute, 21st Century Policing Task Force Report: The First Five Years (Arlington, VA: National Policing Institute, 2021),  

Public Works, LLC Recommendations to Des Moines Police Dept.

The city of Des Moines selected Public Works, LLC to study how data is collected by the Des Moines Police Department and to make recommendations on how it could be done better.  Their efforts centered on the basic principle that data systems should achieve four core attributes – they should be accountable, analytic, transparent, and actionable. These four core data attributes served as the architecture for the entire project, the framework for their research determining and describing the DMPD’s current state of data policy and practice, and ourtheir research in scoping out promising practices in the field of law enforcement data. In the end, their report included 23 recommendations across these four areas.

Read the

City of Chicago Office of Inspector General

Race and Ethnicity Based Disparities in The Chicago Police Department’s Use of Force evaluates quantitative data on uses of force by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for evidence of Race or ethnicity based disparities. With a few exceptions delineated in policy, CPD members are required to document all takedowns, manual strikes, uses of less-lethal weapons, and uses of lethal force on a Tactical Response Report (TRR). The report was published March 2022 and provides insight to the disparities in racially-biased policing.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Leadership Conference engages in Legislative advocacy.  It was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

The Leadership Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) Organization the builds public will for laws and policies that. Promote and protect civil and human rights of every person in the United States. The Education Fund has produced two works that are essential for anyone working on the issue of ending racially biased policing:

New Era of Public Safety

The New Era of Public Safety: An Advocacy Toolkit For Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing

Samuel Walker

Emeritus Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Dr. Walker is a widely-quoted expert on issues of civil liberties, policing and criminal justice policy. He is the author of fourteen books on those subjects, which have appeared in a combined total of thirty-nine different editions. He has been interviewed in every major media outlet in the United States and around the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS/Frontline, CNN and others.

Dr. Walker is perhaps best known for his work on police accountability.  He has also written extensively on citizen oversight of the police. He was a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s National Working Group on Sexual Offenses by Police Officers.


The ACLU was founded in  1920 and has published the following Reports relevant to the mission of Just Voices:

The War on Marijuana in Black and White

A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform

Blueprint for Smart Justice:  Iowa

Victims of Racial Profiling Speak Out (video)

The ACLU of Iowa website is also rich with information and updates on the work for more civil liberties and human rights in Iowa.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

The document provides an overview of sentencing and corrections trends for the past 30 years.

Abstract:  A dramatic increase in offender populations accompanied changes in sentencing and correctional philosophy; this increase was unprecedented and followed a period of relative stability. The number of individuals on probation and parole also grew substantially. The expansion of the prison population affected State and Federal prisons. Women made up a small percentage of the total correctional population.

However, the rate of incarceration for women has grown faster than the rate for men. Minority males had both the greatest overall rate of incarceration and the greatest increases in rates over time. Direct expenditures for correctional activities by State governments grew from $4.26 billion in 1980 to $21.27 billion in 1994. Thirty years ago, the Federal Government, all States, and the District of Columbia had indeterminate sentencing systems that emphasized the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents and adult offenders. Interest in incapacitation grew during the mid-1970s, in part due to concerns about the efficacy of rehabilitation, rising crime rates and public fear of crime. Also influencing sentencing was the “war on drugs,” intermediate sanctions, and truth-in-sentencing. Changes in the philosophy of sentencing and corrections have had a dramatic impact on the criminal justice system.

There is no standard approach to sentencing and corrections today. Structured sentencing, mandatory sentencing, three-strikes laws, parole release, decision making, prison crowding, and behavioral, cultural, and social changes have all had an effect on the correctional system. A new penology is emerging as a direct consequence of the changes in the philosophy and practice of corrections; the objective is to identify and manage unruly people, not punish or rehabilitate them. Emerging paradigms are restorative and community justice programs, re-emerging interest in treatment, specialized courts, the reintegration and reentry of prisoners into the community, new technology, and evidence-based corrections. 6 Appendices, 81 notes, tables, and references.

Read the Sentencing and Corrections in the 21st Century Setting the Stage for the Future  Report.

The Des Moines Marijuana Enforcement Task Force

In June 2020, the Des Moines City Council approved a resolution to form a task force to study making marijuana a low-level police enforcement priority.  The Marijuana Enforcement Task Force completed their work in October 2020. You can read the report and their recommendations in  DM Marijuana Enforcement Task Force Report.

Black Lives of DSM

This website, created by Des Moines resident Janae Gray, is about invigorating and chronicling black voices and experiences to build a stronger community (Des Moines, IA). They believe that by sharing individual stories of the Black community, they can bridge gaps and break down barriers that still exist within our streets, schools, businesses, and workplaces.

Chris Barnum, Phd

Dr. Barnum teaches Criminal Justice and Sociology at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa.  Dr. Barnum is an expert on racial disparity in police traffic stops.  Her has produced the following reports:

Iowa City:  Disproportionate Minority Contact Study.

This web site contains the results of studies initiated by the Iowa City Police Department in 2004 about the correlation of traffic stops and racial profiling by the Iowa City Police Department. Dr. Barnum is in the process of preparing reports on Dewitt and Davenport, Iowa. Contact Dr. Barnum to learn more about his research.

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council

The Iowa public records law — it’s Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code — is the tool that provides you with access to all manner of state and local government records. The link below is to a guide to help you put Chapter 22 to work for you. If you have questions about how to obtain what you are seeking or how to appeal if you have been turned down, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council is here to help you. Send your questions to [email protected]. There is no charge for the council’s services.

Iowa Public Records Law Guide By Randy Evans  

The Directors Council

The Directors Council has published two reports, the goal being to:  “…Eliminate racial, economic, and other disparities in the African American community by directly addressing 5 key areas:

  1. Employment
  2. Financial inclusion
  3. Education
  4. Housing
  5. Health

The Council is a coalition of Des Moines leaders collectively dedicated to improving the conditions of the individuals in the Des Moines neighborhoods they serve.

One Economy: Building Opportunity for All. Published 2017

One Economy: The Blueprint for Action. Published January 2020

Color of Change

Color Of Change describes itself as “the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.”  According to their website, they help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by 7 million members, they move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.

Their campaigns and initiatives win changes that matter. By designing strategies powerful enough to fight racism and injustice—in politics and culture, in the work place and the economy, in criminal justice and community life, and wherever they exist—they are changing both the written and unwritten rules of society. We mobilize our members to end practices and systems that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward. Until justice is real.

Thought Leadership

How to create a campaign/start a petition

The Movement for Black Lives

The mission statement for the movement states that:  “Black life and dignity require Black political will and power. Despite constant exploitation and perpetual oppression, Black people have bravely and brilliantly been a driving force pushing toward collective liberation. In recent years, we have taken to the streets, launched massive campaigns, and impacted elections, but our elected leaders have failed to address the legitimate demands of our Movement. We can no longer wait.”

A Vision for Black Lives:  2020 Policy Platform

Movement for Black Lives: Legal & Other Resources

President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

On December 18, 2014, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order appointing an 11-member task force on 21st century policing to respond to a number of serious incidents between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect. The President wanted a quick but thorough response that would begin the process of healing and restore community trust.

President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – Final Report

The Final Report was followed by an Implementation Guide – Moving From Recommendations to Action

The Des Moines Police Department reviewed the Final Report and produced an annotated copy indicating those areas in which the department claimed it was:  Already in accord with the Final Report (Green), not responsible for action on the recommendations contained in the Final Report (Yellow); Open to discussing the recommendations contained in the Final Report (Gray/White) and Not open to discussing the recommendations Contained in the Final Report (Red). Annotated Appendix

Developing an Action Plan for Creating a More Equitable School:  External Equity Report for Valley High School.  Prepared by Jason Salisbury, Ph.D,  Manali Sheth, Ph.D, Daniel Spikes, Ph.D and Katy Swalwell, Ph.D.  Released August 5, 2016.  NOTE:  Unfortunately, this report is not available online.

Juvenile Justice System Planning Data.  A comprehensive report published in May, 2017 by the Iowa Department of Human rights Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning on School Discipline Data and Juvenile Justice Decision Points.

Contact Dave Kuker
(515) 281-8078
[email protected]

U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Law Enforcement Best Practices – Lessons Learned From the Field

This guidebook collects best practices and guidance from law enforcement practitioners in the field on eight critical areas in modern policing: community policing; de-escalation; crisis intervention; the role of first-line supervisors; early intervention systems; internal affairs; recruitment, hiring, and retention; and the use of data systems. All these topics are deeply intertwined, and the authors take time to discuss their connections—for example, how early intervention and good training can aid officer retention, how de-escalation techniques are vital to crisis intervention, and how the philosophy of community policing underlies and informs all the others.

Race in the Heartland: Equity, Opportunity, and Public Policy in the Midwest
By Colin Gordon

This Report uses statistical evidence to examine the roots of the current state of progress on racial equity in the twelve states of the Midwest region since the high-tide of the civil rights movement.  In the Executive Summary, the report notes the following about the region:  (W)here racial disparities in economy opportunity and economic outcomes are wider than they are in other region, and policy interventions designed to close those gaps are meager.

Center for Policing Equity

In the wake of nationwide protests following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other unarmed Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement, the public appetite for policy change around policing has grown at an unprecedented rate. A July 2020 study released by Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans agree that policing needs major changes, while only 6 percent say no change is needed. Moreover, large majorities support an “increased focus on accountability [and] community relations.”

This guidebook, however, is based on a simple truth: Data collection and analytics are the key to building a new approach. We can’t arrive at a safer version of policing unless we can measure what’s going on and respond to it.

Read:  Collecting, Analyzing, and Responding to Stop Data: A Guidebook for Law Enforcement Agencies, Government, and Communities

Online Articles

 5 Years After Ferguson, We’re Losing the Fight Against Police Violence
By Justin Hansford

We asked 155 police departments about their racial bias training. Here’s what they told us.

How the FBI is collecting data on police departments’ use of force, five years after Ferguson

Sojourners website:  Faith in Action for Social Justice

Matthew 25 Policing Toolkit

Looking Deathworthy: Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes.

10 Best Practices for Writing Policies Against Racial Profiling.
Southern Poverty Law Center

Police Militarization gave us Uvalde, TX (The Atlantic, June 17, 2022)

Actual Ratified Model Legislation

Ordinance #15,906. An Ordinance regarding unbiased policing
Des Moines Unbiased Policing Ordinance Final

Resolution dated March 9, 2020, Agenda item 40B. A Resolution Directing the City Manager to Develop a Request For Proposals to Determine Best Practices for Research and Data Collection Methods Concerning Law and Code Enforcement and to Authorize Implementation of such Research and Data Collection.
Des Moines Resolution to Request an RFP 03092020

Resolution dated March 9, 2020, Agenda item 40C.  A Resolution Directing the City Manager to Include Implicit Bias Training, De-escalation Training and Cultural Competency Training in Employee Training and Education.
Des Moines Resolution for DMPD Implicit Bias Training

Resolution dated June 22nd, 2020, Agenda item #71-I(A).  A Resolution Supporting the Decriminalization of Marijuana and Creating a Task Force to Minimize Enforcement for Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use.
Des Moines Resolution to Study the Decriminalization of Marijuana

Letter dated March 3rd, 2020 from Scott E. Sanders, Des Moines City Manager outlining steps that the City is willing to take to support the changes requested by the Community Alliance. Also specifies areas where the city is not willing to make the changes being requested.
Des Moines City Manager March 3 2020 Letter