Dear Commissioners Edwards, Mejia, and Menser,
Thank you for your resolution declaring racism a crisis in Thurston County. We want to highlight one issue that needs immediate attention. Last spring, Justice not Jails looked into racial disparity in the criminal justice system. Here's what we found.
We brought our findings to the County's Law and Justice Council and to the Innovative Justice Working Group in which many County and city justice officials participate. Some responded that analyzing this data was complicated and wondered if our findings were valid. We followed up with County staff and found that not only is analyzing the data complicated, but the County has no system to track overall justice system performance on race, income, or any other measures of success.
We're grateful that you are creating a criminal justice coordinator position and grateful that some departments are creating new shared data systems. However, the above findings point to racial disparity in our justice system right now. Please direct the Sheriff, Prosecuting Attorney, Public Defender, Pretrial Services, and Courts to report on whether racial bias affects their operations and, if so, the steps they are taking to address it. Please also direct them to create a system to track and report overall justice system performance on racial and income equity, recidivism and other key measures of success.
Thank you for your commitment to our community,
Steve Tilley for
Justice not Jails, Thurston County
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