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Task Force on Racial Disparity Reviews Forums - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Task Force on Racial Disparity Reviews Forums

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The city of Charlottesville has opened a dialogue about tackling the racial disparities in the city. Wednesday night we are learning the results of those community discussions.

The city is now focusing on the next steps to end the racial disparity problem.

Statistics about racial disparity in Charlottesville sparked a number of discussions last month. Now the group behind those talks - the Task Force on Racial Disparity - is looking at the results.

"What we're learning in the research phase and in hearing from folks in the meetings is we need to look at the initial referral into the juvenile justice system," said task force member Mike Murphy.

The findings from the forums also include problems with parenting, lack of cultural competence, and the lack of peer support in the community.

Matthew Murphy, who attended all four forums, says he wants to see solid, active steps.

"I think we need some measurable, kind of some benchmarks if you would - what does success look like - and so I think we need to be able to define what success looks like in this situation," he said.

Those steps will come in the form of peer-to-peer networks, diversity training with police and youth, and even parenting programs. The task force also wants to make the conversation more positive, focusing on the disparities but noting that 94 percent of black youth never get involved in crime.

"I think that that gives a different picture about why we should be engaged with prevention and that we are making some progress and we want to work on this disparity issue," Mike Murphy said.

Once the task force completes its research with those who work in the juvenile justice system, both the group and the community hope to finally get an answer to why these disparities exist.

"Why is it five and a half times more likely that a black teen goes into detention than a white teen for the same crime? I'd like to hear from those who are putting those practices into place," Matthew Murphy said.

The task force still has a long way to go before it gets to the bottom of this issue. It plans to conduct more interviews with those who work in the criminal justice system and with youth.

The group hopes to make its recommendations to council in the next couple of months.

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