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Third Judicial District - Equal Justice Committee November Listening Session and Report

PlanScape Impact(s): Best Practice ; Business Process ; Diversity and Inclusion ; Public Safety
Last modified: October 06, 2016 Public Report From Third Judicial District - Equal Justice Committee

 

Contents

Made available as a collaborative effort between Diversity Council and Third Juidicial District, this report will be discussed in November 3 meeting.

 April 28, 2016 Community Listening Session Report

Summary of Recommendations

1. Continue the dialogue and include law enforcement in the conversation. The participants are aware that the judicial system and law enforcement are separate of each other, however, the issues people of color face in these areas are similar. In order for a more just court system to be possible, both systems need to be accountable for their processes and actions.

2. Provide mentorship for students of color to enter careers in the legal system. The lack of judges of color deepens the black community’s sense of mistreatment in the justice system. There is a pervasive belief that black offenders receive longer sentencings versus white offenders convicted of similar crimes. Representational makeup judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and jurors will move that perception – and the reality – ahead.

3. Provide education to the community on how to navigate the court system. This can be in many formats: presentations, classes, or informational sessions. Support this by creating a more navigable online experience for users who are seeking information about what to expect when they are summoned to court. A specific question was raised about defendants without permanent addresses not receiving notices to appear in court, which results in the issuance of bench warrants. Is there a way to notify the people who need to appear in court through emails or text messages?

4. Provide additional resources through the Public Defenders’ Office, ensuring that attorneys can spend more time with their clients. Many folks felt defendants were pressured to take plea deals for crimes they did not commit to avoid going to court and risk a harsher punishment. The community felt that public defender caseloads were too heavy to actually provide the best defense that clients who cannot afford a lawyer deserved.

5. Support alternatives-to-arrest and incarceration programs. If individuals end up in the system without consideration of mental health issues, language barriers, or developmental disabilities then incarceration may be inappropriate. If the court system could do more to partner with after school programs, mental health centers, or drug treatment options there may be better outcomes.

6. Support laws that reduce or redefine sentencing protocols. People serving sentences for non- violent drug offenses often face sentences that are overly punitive. Those who are convicted for these crimes are often poor people of color. Support the Smarter Sentencing Act and other laws in the State of Minnesota that propose smarter sentencing.

7. Hold one another accountable within the judicial system. There should be a culture of equity where dialogue and accountability related to sentencing and treatment. The only way that real equity within the justice system happens is when people with conviction demand it.

 


 

PlanScape Impact(s): Best Practice ; Business Process ; Diversity and Inclusion ; Public Safety
Last modified: October 06, 2016 Public Report From Third Judicial District - Equal Justice Committee

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Beam
  • For the commercial sector, we tend to register startup activities (new companies and new commercial projects) that bring diversification and high-impact opportunities to the area.
  • For the non-profit sector, we wish to shine light on all the organizations and services that otherwise labor under relative obscurity.
  • Our hope is that dmcbeam.org will encourage cross-sector collaborations and creative solutions.

While there are a number of registries in the community, dmcbeam.org's  distinct value is to pilot a database with a data structure and categorizations that answer the questions such as: What organizations or projects/programs in our community that have purported relevance with some of the over-arching focuses put forward by initiatives such as DMC, J2G and Health Improvements?

This database could be used as one of the ways to explore the capacities of the community. If you are someone on an exploratory journey to learn about the greater Rochester community. dmcbeam.org could be an interesting first step.

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