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