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HARRIS COUNTY – (March 21, 2023) The Racial and Ethnic Equity Committee, a standing committee of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, is presenting Centering [Racial] Disparity and Highlighting Fairness in the Harris County Criminal Justice System which will be held at the Anderson-Clarke Center on the Campus at Rice University May 18 and 19, 2023 at 7:30 am.

“We continue to see massive racial disparities throughout our criminal justice system that affect people and their families well beyond a single court case. To ensure fair and equal treatment for everyone in Harris County, we must get to the root causes underlying racial disparities and our system of mass incarceration. This conference will bring together practitioners and those directly affected by the criminal justice system, a vital step in making the system more just for all,” said Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Through a series of roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, and speakers, the conference seeks to identify and address racial and ethnic disparities across the Harris County Criminal Justice System by highlighting best practices and solutions for reducing inequalities amongst the most vulnerable populations.“This practitioner-focused conference is one of many strategic efforts to improve our criminal justice system so that all who enter are assured they will receive equal treatment in Harris County,” said Commissioner Adrian Garcia.

The conference will feature as its keynote speaker, New York Times bestselling author and distinguished professor and media personality, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Authoring over 25 books, Dr. Dyson is widely acclaimed for his insights on race, social injustice, and contemporary culture.

“The conference goal is to register 240 Harris County criminal justice stakeholders at no cost. Law enforcement agents and participating attorneys will earn Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, and provide feedback on how Harris County can continually support fairness,” stated Dr. Arelia Johnson, Racial Disparities and Fairness Administrator with the Harris County Office of Justice and Safety. “There is much we can all learn, share, and collaborate on to make a powerful difference in maintaining efforts to engage community members, criminal justice system stakeholders, partners, organizations, and academics that work with populations impacted at varying systemic levels.”

“None of us woke up this morning to the surprise that indigent people and people of color are disproportionately represented in most jails across the country. The issue of racial disparities in criminal justice is serious, pervasive, and will not be solved overnight,” said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.  “Therefore, it is important for local government to support and facilitate ways (like this conference) for our communities, law enforcement, and all justice actors to interact and share ideas on how to reduce these disparities together.”

This inaugural conference is supported by the MacArthur Foundation through the Safety and Justice Challenge and the Rice University Police Department and is being hosted by the Office of Justice and Safety.

Harris County is one of the Safety and Justice Challenge implementation sites that has been charged with understanding the characteristics of jurisdictions that successfully address racial and ethnic disparities.

Please join us May 18-19, 2023, by registering using this link: CONFERENCE REGISTRATION. 

For more information, please click here to contact, Dr. Arelia Johnson, Racial Disparities and Fairness Administrator, at the Office of Justice and Safety. To learn more on the conference click here.