Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System

Juvenile Justice and Racial Disproportionality conference, March 28, 2012


In the wake of comments made by two Washington state Supreme Court justices, a new task force on Race and the Criminal Justice System was formed that incorporates members of the justice system and the community. The coalition is broad-based with and partners from the community-at-large, legal profession, minority bar associations and justice system. Objectives include deepening research and education in this important area and investigating the need for structural reform of our state’s and our nation’s criminal justice systems.

The task force's first meeting took place on November 4, 2010, at Seattle University School of Law. Faculty from across the UW campus are involved in the Task Force:

  • UW School of Law Dean Kellye Y. Testy sits on the Research Working Group, whose charge is to develop informational resources and present findings on race and the criminal justice system
  • Law professor Jackie McMurtrie, Director, Innocence Project Northwest, is on the Community Engagement Working Group
  • Associate Law Professor Mary Fan is on the Education Working Group.
  • Researchers from the UW College of Arts and Sciences found that Seattle police disproportionately arrest blacks and Latinos for drug offenses. The racial disparities stem from organizational practices, including a focus on targeting drug-enforcement discretion on crack cocaine.

The Task Force goes to Olympia

On March 2, 2011, members of the Task Force met with the Washington Supreme Court. The Research Working Group and the Recommendations/Implementation Working Group presentated to the Court.

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