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Blueprint for Racial Justice offers guidance, resources for courts

Blueprint for Racial Justice offers guidance, resources for courts

Courts across the country are taking steps to gain a better understanding of race as leaders work to identify and address inequities impacting racial justice.

Through the Blueprint for Racial Justice, NCSC is bringing courts together to problem solve and share best practices and lessons learned to develop an array of resources that can help courts start or continue their racial justice journey.

Guided by a steering committee of chief justices, state court administrators, and NCSC leadership, more than 150 judicial branch leaders, court executives, and NCSC experts are developing tools to improve racial equality to ensure all court users, litigants, and community members are heard and respected by the justice system. A 2020 resolution from the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators charged leaders to examine systemic change in the system.

Last month, the group released “Systemic Change Guiding Principles” that outline seven principles to assist courts with examining the root causes of disparities and seeking reforms at the system level. These principles can be used to evaluate potential areas to address, propose policy reforms, or conduct analyses on proposed rule changes or legislation.

And earlier this month, State Court Organization published judicial demographic information on gender, race, and ethnicity.

Additionally, the project is creating opportunities for conversations about racial justice through webinars and a Watch, Read, Listen project that introduces literary works such as, “So You Want to Talk About Race,” to evoke thoughts, feelings and ideas about race.

Since last year, the Blueprint for Racial Justice has hosted nine webinars with topics ranging from guidance on creating your own racial justice blueprint and initiating courageous conversations about race to systemic issues related to pretrial release and financial sanctions. Today, a new five-part series focusing on juries begins at 1 p.m. ET.

Resources developed through the Blueprint for Racial Justice are available in NCSC’s online Racial Justice Resource Center. Ongoing and future work includes a racial justice organizational assessment toolkit for courts, resources on topics such as data collection strategies and judicial mentorship and an internship portal. Financial support from NCSC and the State Justice Institute has made this work possible.

To learn more about the Blueprint for Racial Justice, contact Edwin Bell, Director of Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion, or project director Jennifer Elek.