Racial Justice in Psycholegal Research and Forensic Psychology Practice: Current Advances and a Framework for Future Progress

Jennifer S. Hunt, Stephane M. Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Police killings of Black civilians have brought unprecedented attention to racial and ethnic discrimination in the criminal justice and legal systems. However, these topics have been underexamined in the field of law– psychology, both in research and forensic–clinical practice. We discuss how a racial justice framework can provide guidance for advancing psycholegal research and forensic–clinical practice related to race, ethnicity, culture, and their intersections. A racial justice framework centers the goal of increasing fair and responsive treatment and just outcomes for the most vulnerable populations involved with the criminal justice, legal, and carceral systems and ending existing disparities. We argue that the framework should include the use of transparent nonobjectivity, in which racial justice is an explicit and acknowledged goal of research and practice that exists alongside a commitment to open and rigorous science and evidence-based practice. We then use the racial justice framework as a backdrop for discussing the articles and broader themes that appear in the special issue, which include racial biases in policing, public views of the police and use of force, expanding research on racial bias in lay judgments, understanding disparities in sentencing and corrections, and improving forensic practice. Finally, we look to the future, discussing practices and perspectives that can facilitate a racial justice approach in psycholegal research and forensic–clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Psychological Association


  • criminal justice
  • forensic psychology
  • legal decisions
  • methodology
  • racial justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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