NCJA Board Expresses its Commitment to Criminal Justice Reform and Announces the Creation of Committee on Racial Justice and Fairness

Today the Board of Directors of the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) released a statement affirming its commitment to the work of criminal justice reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd. To ensure that the words in the statement translate into affirmative and impactful work, NCJA is also announcing the establishment of a new Board committee dedicated to addressing issues of racial equality in the justice system.

 

This new Committee on Racial Justice and Fairness, co-chaired by Mannone Butler, executive director of the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, will empower NCJA to deeply examine the structural issues that impact our work and ensure that we can make positive contributions to undertake these necessary changes.  

 

As states and local jurisdictions across the country re-examine their policies and practices addressing the justice system’s response in Black communities, NCJA is uniquely situated through our work to promote best practices that are fair, just, and address racial bias and the impact on communities of color.

 

“State and local decision-making will drive much of these reform measures,” said NCJA President Christian Kervick, executive director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Council. “As an association representing these policymakers and practitioners across the country, NCJA members play an important role as a catalyst for change.”

 

Today’s statement combined with the long-term commitment to inform our work through the committee’s guidance, reaffirms NCJA’s mission to ensure a fairer, more just system for all. 

Statement on Behalf of the NCJA Board of Directors

Like many across the justice system we at the National Criminal Justice Association share in the nation’s sadness and anger at the murder of George Floyd. Not only was it disturbing to watch people charged with protecting all of us act in such a callous manner, but the utter indifference to the suffering of another human being was particularly evident as Mr. Floyd begged for his life, to no avail, and took his final breath.

 

Mr. Floyd’s death, caught on video, is but a single page in a long story of racial disparity that far too often occurs in the criminal justice system. The ugly stain of racism has not been extinguished, and far too often complaints about the fairness of law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and our overall system of justice have been summarily dismissed with little examination.

 

The tragic and needless death of Mr. Floyd has sparked an awakening. Finally, many Americans understand that our societal and historical issues with race neither begin nor end at the doors of our justice system. As state and local criminal justice practitioners we work every day to reduce incarceration, reform sentencing laws, divert justice-involved individuals with mental health and substance use disorders into treatment, reduce the collateral consequences of a criminal record, use data to implement programs designed to help individuals returning to the community from prison and jail, and ultimately seek to reduce racial disparities across the justice system.

 

At NCJA, we are proud of our work throughout states, counties, cities, and townships. But we also know there is still much more to do to ensure that all Americans are treated with fairness and dignity in everyday interactions with police, the courts, those managing jails and prisons, in treatment, and in their return to our communities.

 

As criminal justice system leaders we have a moral and ethical obligation to continue our work to ensure racial equity in the criminal justice system. As such, we must sharpen our focus and harden our resolve to implement and support policies, programs, and best practices that are fair, just, and address racial bias and the impact on communities of color. The principles of liberty, equal protection, and equal justice demand nothing less.

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