A Charlotte-Mecklenburg community where the composition and outcomes of juvenile courts cannot be predicted by race or ethnicity.
In 2006, the Juvenile Justice Partnership initiated a series of focused discussions about race that explored personal views and experiences; examined strategies to strengthen racial and ethnic inclusion and equity in the Juvenile Justice system; and detailed the extent of minority overrepresentation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg juvenile court system.
That same year (2009), North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Sarah Parker convened a series of meetings to explore the rate of disproportionality in North Carolina and develop a statewide strategic plan. With the expertise and support of the NCJFCJ and Casey Family Programs, Chief Justice Parker appointed a working committee of state judges and administrators charged with implementing strategies to transform judicial practice. Unfortunately, the workgroup is currently dormant.
In 2008, the Mecklenburg County Model Court adopted the Courts Catalyzing Change agenda for implementation in Mecklenburg County. Funded by Casey Family Programs and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care initiative was introduced by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). This effort brings together judicial officers and other systems experts who have set a National Agenda to reduce the disproportionate representation of and disparate outcomes for children of color in dependency court system. The key components include steps to:
In January 2010, a retreat was coordinated by the Honorable Hugh Lewis to bring together key stakeholders interested in working with the Court to reduce disproportionality and disparate outcomes for families and children of color. At that meeting Race Matters for Juvenile Justice was formed; mission and vision statements were created; and public awareness and education was adopted as the first target area for developing action steps. The participants involved in that process became the original members of RMJJ’s Collaborative Leadership Group.
In 2009, the Court’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee hosted a public forum entitled Race Matters that explored the racial composition and outcomes for Charlotte-Mecklenburg youth engaged in the juvenile court system. Later that year, the Model Court Advisory Committee hosted a juvenile conference entitled, Courts Catalyzing Change: Achieving Equity and Fairness in Foster Care. Courageous conversations were the theme of the day as attendees explored critical questions relating to the impact of race and ethnicity when families interface with systems of child welfare.
On Friday, January 28, 2011, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice and its community partners hosted a ground-breaking symposium that examined disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare and juvenile justice system. Over three-hundred judges and elected officials, court administrators, attorneys, child welfare experts, social workers, law enforcement officers, juvenile court counselors, child advocates, faith-based leaders, small business owners, and non-profit representatives attended.
To learn about what RMJJ is doing today, please see our Current Initiatives