Helina Dagnew

Research Project

The Injustices in the Criminal Justice against Racialized Individuals


My name is Helina Dagnew and I am a fourth-year student studying Professional Communications at Toronto Metropolitan University. My goal was to learn more about the unequal treatment of racialized people in the criminal justice system. My interest in this topic began in 2020, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to George Floyd’s devastating murder, which highlighted systemic injustices in the criminal justice system. The events preceding Floyd’s death highlighted concerns of systematic racism and police violence, prompting global calls for reform and accountability. When I heard this story, I considered the impact on Floyd’s little daughter, the consequences for his family, the incidence of similar injustices experienced by others, and his path forward. While I am not an expert, I am deeply committed to studying the challenges that affect underprivileged populations. I hope that my research will increase awareness and lead to positive change in our society!

Research Summary


This proposal investigates the systemic racial prejudices in the criminal justice system, tracing them back to historical injustices such as slavery. It seeks to identify and address the challenges that coloured people encounter within this system, with an emphasis on the effects of mass imprisonment, healthcare inequities, and essential reforms. The research aims to provide recommendations for promoting racial fairness through a comprehensive literature evaluation and methodology that includes data collecting and analysis. Limitations such as sample representation and gender bias are addressed, with a focus on elevating underrepresented voices and delivering useful insights via thematic and statistical analysis.



My research focuses on the inequalities that coloured individuals encounter in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system has failed racialized people for hundreds of years. This field of study investigates a long-standing racial bias that has its roots in slavery and survives in current situations through institutions such as the criminal justice system. It focuses on laws and policies intended to protect those who stand to benefit the most from them.


Research questions:

What are the long-term effects of mass incarceration on the social, psychological, and economic well-being of the families and neighborhoods where people from racialized communities live? And what plans of action can be put in place to lessen these impacts and encourage the healing of the community?

What particular difficulties and discrepancies in healthcare outcomes and access do people of colour face while they are incarcerated, and how do these experiences affect their general health and well-being after release? What adjustments or actions can be taken to deal with these problems and guarantee that inmates receive fair healthcare?

What specific systemic changes are required to address the persistent racial disparities and injustices in the criminal justice system, and how can these changes ensure that racialized individuals are treated fairly and equitably at all stages of the legal process, from policing to sentencing and reintegration?



This study uses secondary data analysis to investigate themes related to racial inequalities in the criminal justice system. It entails analyzing existing data from reports and articles to discover trends, validate ideas, and evaluate the effects of mass imprisonment, jail healthcare, and correctional policies. Case and film studies are also used to gain perspectives from people who have been touched by these injustices, providing for a more in-depth knowledge of real-life situations in natural settings.



Mass incarceration has a severe and long-term impact on the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, resulting in social, psychological, and economic concerns such as strained family ties, increased mental health issues, and fewer economic possibilities. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is fundamentally failing and will require considerable reform efforts over time. To alleviate the impacts and promote healing, comprehensive methods such as community-based reintegration programs, mental health care, education, job training, policy reforms, and restorative justice approaches are required. People of colour frequently experience hurdles to healthcare access while incarcerated, resulting in untreated ailments and discrepancies in mental healthcare delivery. Addressing these discrepancies will need cultural competency training, more money, and coordination with community organizations. Furthermore, systemic changes are required to address racial injustices in the criminal justice system, which include improvements in police, sentencing practices, transparency, investments in alternatives to jail, and efforts to address underlying socioeconomic inequality.



The study acknowledges a few limitations, including potential biases from sample representation and gender imbalance in the literature review. Furthermore, it highlights the lack of views from law enforcement professionals, which could provide useful insights. These limitations highlight the importance of cautious interpretation of the findings, as well as options for future research to fill gaps and improve the study’s comprehensiveness.

Research Poster

Lightning Talk

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