Report Details Racial Disparities in Washtenaw County Legal System
CREW Releases “Race to Justice: Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw’s Report on Racial Disparities in the Washtenaw County Criminal Legal System”
Letter from Rev. Joe Summers
Episcopal Church of the Incarnation
ICPJ Board member
Washtenaw Poor People’s Campaign Steering Committee
Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) was formed to gather public data on the charging and sentencing of individuals in Washtenaw County and to assess whether the data reflected racial disparities and the impact of any disparity on members of our community. Though we have begun to have extensive discussions on problems with discriminatory policing practices in our county, we have had very little data or focus so far on discriminatory practices in our court system. We hope our report will be the beginning of such a conversation.
I was privileged to serve on this committee which was co-chaired by former state Senator Alma Wheeler Smith and Linda Rexer, who for 30 years was the Executive Director of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.
The report has just been released. The data shows clear patterns of the kinds of racial disparities that we find in our criminal justice system throughout our country. Our report is not an easy or quick read though there is an executive summary at the beginning with our key conclusions and recommendations.
My hope is that those of you who want to overcome these forms of discrimination in Washtenaw County will take the time to read through it so that we can come together as a community to determine how to transform our local justice system so that it might be more equitable and restorative in its practices.
Rev. Joe Summers
p.s. As I was writing this I learned that Chief Judge Carol Kuhnke, of the Washtenaw County Trial Court and Eli Savit–who is running unopposed for Washtenaw County Prosecutor–released a joint statement expressing “appreciation for the CREW report, and broad support for its recommendations.” Their joint statement can be found on Eli Savit’s twitter here.
Email, Call, Message Washtenaw elected officials
For years elected leaders have shrugged and claimed they lacked the data to do anything about the racial bias we know exists in the criminal legal system here in Washtenaw County. We don’t lack the data anymore.
Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) spent months documenting felony case records from the Washtenaw County Court website. They analyzed thousands of charging decisions by prosecutors and sentencing decisions by judges and found harmful racial disparities. The data is discussed in CREW’s just-issued report, “Race to Justice: Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw’s Report on Racial Disparities in the Washtenaw County Criminal Legal System”. Download here.
ICPJ is supporting CREW’s call to action. Please contact elected Washtenaw County officials and urge them to act immediately on the recommendations in “Race to Justice”.
To easily send letters to elected officials in the legal system, go to the letter campaign page here, where we provide sample text (that you can modify as you see fit).