June 25, 2014
Racial inequality in the juvenile justice system has been a concern throughout Charlottesville.
A recent report shows juvenile arrests for criminal offenses in Charlottesville are down 80 percent since 2001, but there are still disproportionate numbers between black and white children in the system.
Charlottesville city council is hoping to find ways to close that gap thanks to research done by uva graduate students, members of the community and the legal aid justice center.
“So we need to know are the police treating kids differently, are the courts treating kids differently, and are there different outcomes,” says Kristin Szakos from Charlottesville City Council.
Emily Dreyfus with the legal aid justice center has been a part of a task force working to find solutions and says the report shows recommendations on ways to reduce the issue.
“It touches on issues of prevention as well,” says Dreyfus. “That's one of the recommendations to find more ways that the city can support effective measures that will help kids not get in trouble, keep them off the streets and doing productive activities.”
The report also suggests training for police and training for youth on ways to interact with officers.
City councilor Kristin Szakos says some of those training programs are already in effect.
“We've already begun putting in place some of those responses,” says Szakos. “This has been going on for a year and as we've been seeing what's coming up in those things, we haven't just waited until the report came.”
“We've increased the youth employment plan in the city, we've been doing a lot of work with the police in the community trying to get more relationship building.”
They hope to continue looking at research an data with hopes that after programs are in place, the gap will close and the numbers for juveniles in the justice system will go down.
Charlottesville City Council will hold the meeting tomorrow at 5 PM at City Space on the Downtown Mall. All are welcome to attend.