Racial Disparity Task Force Presents Recommendations to Council

Posted: Updated:

Charlottesville's task force on racial disparity has wrapped up its work after two years. Now, it's asking City Council to support its recommendations to help bring change - especially for young people.

The task force found that even though the number of juvenile arrests has gone down, the number of black youth in the system continues to grow. Members of the task force are asking council to take a long, hard look at this issue.

“I believe that there can be a change but you have to want change,” said Deirdre Gilmore, task force member.

Gilmore has been heavily involved in Charlottesville’s task force on racial disparity.

"There has to be a change because if not, we're going to keep losing our kids,” said Gilmore.

The group has been meeting for about two years, looking at the differences in the juvenile justice system. It found that juvenile arrests have gone down, but the disparity between black and white youth remains.

The Legal Aid Justice Center says it's an issue that needs to be addressed.

"There are racial disparities in juvenile justice that are very significant and our community needs to be more responsive,” said Emily Dreyfus, task force member.

Last year a number of community forums shed light on the problem – and a possible solution.

"That was really where the human input came from. The stories of how things are happening for families and what showed loud and clear is that there need to be improvements,” said Dreyfus.

"We definitely need programs in public housing but we need programs that are run by the residents because we know what we need for our children better than anybody else,” said Gilmore.

Now, the task force is making some recommendations. The task force is asking City Council Monday to support extra training for police, youth, and juvenile justice professionals. It also wants an in-depth look at current policies and wants to work more closely with schools.

Council is planning another work session to go over the racial disparity report in more detail on June 26.