What is the Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA)?

According to the DC Policy Center, local and state governments are increasingly using the Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) framework to evaluate the potential impact of policies and proposals. REIAs offer system examination of how different racial ethnic groups will likely be affected by a proposed action or decision; and are used to reduce, eliminate and prevent racial discrimination and inequities. They can be a vital tool for preventing institutional racism and for identifying new options to remedy long-standing inequities.

According to Race Forward, which provides a toolkit on how to use the assessment tool, REIAs are best conducted during the decision-making process, prior to enacting new proposals. They are used to inform decisions, much like environmental impact statements, fiscal impact reports and workplace risk assessments.

REIAs can be used to ensure equitable application to things such as fees and fines, which increase debt for people of color and other detrimental consequences to economic prosperity. In the DC Policy Center report, Applying a Racial Equity Lens to Fines and Fees in the District of Columbia, REIAs can be used to evaluate the impact of fines and fees based on existing data or evidence available to help determine whether people of color are disproportionately likely to be more severely affected by new and existing laws and regulations in practice.  This means that when experiencing punitive fines for example, no resident should experience a different level of access or cost for government services, including being able do business with the government as the Clean Hands regulation currently stipulates that residents in debt to the government more than $100 are not eligible to do business with the government.

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