Gary Eichten hosts MPR's "Color of Justice Forum", at the Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis. Panelists include St. Paul Police Chief Bill Finney, DFL State Senator Jane Ranum, Republican State Representative and Minneapolis Police Inspector Rich Stanek, Hennepin County Judge Tanya Bransford, Hennepin County Public Defender Leonardo Castro, and Minnesota Corrections Commissioner Sheryl Ramstad-Hvass.
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(00:00:04) And good afternoon. Welcome to a special edition of midday here in Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten this afternoon. We're broadcasting live from the Sabbath and he Community Center in South Minneapolis, where a forum on racial disparities in the Minnesota criminal justice system is under way raw statistics make it clear that such disparities do exist an African-American and Minnesota is 21 times more likely to end up in prison than a white person. That's the biggest disparity in the nation. Here's another statistic that catches your eye in 1999 over half of all African-American males in Hennepin County between the ages of 18 and 30 were arrested over half of them add to that the fact that blacks are far more likely to be stopped and searched than whites and more likely to get a harsher sentence for the same crime and the raw statistics seem to tell a pretty disturbing Story one where the civil rights of individuals. Being violated and Community respect for the criminal justice system is being undermined. What is less clear is why there is such a disparity and what if anything should be done about it? And that's why we're here at sabath Annie today as part of our Series this week the color of justice and a sort of public radio Civic journalism initiative is brought together 40 citizens from communities most affected by this disparity to talk among themselves and formulate a series of questions for the panel of officials. That's joined us today by the end of the hour. We do not expect to solve this problem. But we do hope to Foster further discussion of the issue and perhaps come up with some ideas and how to make some progress toward a solution. So let's meet our panel and get started joining us today is dfl state. Senator, Jane random the chair of the Minnesota Senate crime prevention committee and Republican state representative Rich Stanek the chair of the Minnesota house Judiciary finance committee. Senator random is on leave from her job as a Hennepin County prosecutor representative Stanek is a Minneapolis Police Inspector. Both sponsored racial profiling legislation at the Capitol last spring also with us the st. Paul police chief Bill Finney and up in County District Court Judge tenure Bransford a member of the committee charged with implementing the recommendations of the state Supreme Court's task force on racial bias in Amman County public defender. Leonardo Castro is here as is Minnesota Department of Corrections. Commissioner Cheryl ramstad, boss. Minnesota Public Radio is Leonard wit and Jason Schaefer are handling audience questions. So let's get started late. Thanks this morning. We worked on some questions with our group for about two hours and richer Bell was going to start with the first question. Thank you. My question is directed to achieve Fenian representative standing and as a result of the findings of racial profiling what mandatory are going training will be provided to police administrators and officers in the areas of cultural competency and cultural sensitivity as relates to serving poor people communities of color and economic diverse populations. And what would will be done to assure of the implementation of the training Chief any? (00:03:08) Yes. Thank you for the question. The st. Paul police are probably entered into agreement with the NAACP did st. Paul chapter and I as a result of that agreement we have instituted training are in service training which began this fall and is ongoing as we speak involves N double ACP and the Saint Paul Urban League and the trading of our officers to those (00:03:32) issues. Represent static, thank you. Well the issue of racial profiling in training and community and cultural diversity is one that we spent a lot of time on and discussion this past legislative session. As you know, we did pass some legislation dealing with racial profiling I think first and foremost, it was important to note that the legislature and law enforcement Community acknowledge that racial profiling does exist on a on a somewhat a basis not systemic State why but on an individual case-by-case basis police chief's Like Chief Vinny and chief Olson and others have done a good job dealing with that issue within their own local police departments from the Statewide perspective though, the Statewide response. We put in place mandatory training and policy for each law enforcement agency in Minnesota. We talked about diversity and recruitment of Law Enforcement Officers. Statewide be more reflective of their communities. We talked about data collection in a public awareness campaign. We put in place a racial profiling advisory committee using the communities of color and other stakeholders in the criminal justice Community to come together to discuss some of these issues. And give some guidance and advice to the Department of Public Safety to move forward with ending the in Horton practice of racial profiling in Minnesota. What happens after officer goes through all the training though and there are problems. What happens to (00:04:49) well in st. Paul. This is Bill Finney and in st. Paul officers that don't respond to a training they're given and operate outside the guidelines of the department and certainly are the expectations of the community. They have to face to achieve and be accountable for those reasons why it is they didn't adhere to our policy and our partnership with the community. So those are things that cause ulcers a bit of stress and I would suspect that. Most people don't want to sit in front of Chief. So I was spectacular a degree of compliance. (00:05:24) So when I take the (00:05:25) this is Jane random state senator who offed a third one of the pieces of legislation this past year. What I think is important is at this point in time is a result of the legislature not passing mandatory Statewide data collection on racial profiling. We really can't say at this point in time. What is the extent of racial profiling in this state? What we do what we will be able to do with the passage of the legislation is in the communities, which have agreed to participate there will be data collected in those communities, but I think that it is the audience must understand that we cannot say what is the extent because it's not mandatory Statewide data collection (00:06:15) representative standing. Thank you. The I mean the state set out some general parameters as far as training and policy and put forth money about for Half million dollars for the issue of racial profiling Minnesota and training those peace officers, but certainly local control was left up to individual police departments like st. Paul Minneapolis Hennepin County. I mean, I as a police officer for the past 19 years would not want to be sitting in the chair in front of Chief Finney and soon as to why my traffic stops are my stops of citizens reflect only one portion of racial disparity. I think Chief any again, he's done a good job in his department and we have to rely on individual police Chiefs and Sheriff's Statewide to take that issue under control and deal with it public defender Castro, you know the agreement that g Finney entered in with the naacp's was a laudable task they engaged in however, you know, the courts are not bound but what by what the chief any and the n-double-a-cp engaged in the courts are not bound by the policy of the police. So if a police officer does engage in this kind of conduct there really is anything that can happen to that police officer and the case proceeds as if There was no policy in place, you know Chief Olson and chief Finney have implemented numerous policies in their department. But you know all police officers don't follow those procedures and if the courts are not bound by those in at some level they mean nothing. another audience question Deidre Rhett Samuels has a (00:07:48) question. Good afternoon. My name is Deidre named samuells. And my question would be for representative standing and (00:07:56) to Philly in the event that there is police abuse (00:07:59) caught on police squad car cameras. What is the guarantee that it will be used or even view or if the cameras will pick up everything that happens? I'll answer that one. First. The guarantees is who you select for a chief of police. You have to understand that in terms of police officers the public can't reach out and touch a police officer who hasn't done anything that's criminally or civilly wrong and there's a whole lot of area in between those extremes civilly wrong or criminally wrong to an alternate has misbehaved be disrespectful have for public relations the things that really annoy members of the public and minority members in particular. So you have to have a police department that has achieved that is responsive to the community because you can tell the chief with the do what you certainly can't tell police officer much to do and you have to trust that that Chief will comply with your wishes and Carry Out discipline discipline a police officer that has guarantees of civil service protections and officer Bill of Rights is cetera is is not impossible, but it's a task and so clearly The chief law enforcement Executives have to understand that they serve the community. They serve good government that they have to adhere to the Constitution and ensure that their police officers do likewise (00:09:22) represented Stanek. Thank you. Well, one of the components of the profiling legislation from this past session was in fact money to purchase video cameras for squad cars and to date there were about a hundred law enforcement agencies Statewide representing all the way from Duluth down the Rochester over to st. Cloud Minneapolis. I'm not sure about st. Paul but Ramsey County a number of different agencies have asked for the video cameras. The information will document an incident ink, that's what that's what part of the that's what makes this racial profiling legislation work is that we're looking at alternative ways to deal with the issue not just attacking it head-on but coming at it from sides as well through the training the policy the cameras. That's what Minnesota is all about gender. Random. (00:10:08) The question that you've asked is One of the questions that was asked at the legislature as well and I can tell you that representatives of communities of color who are actively involved at the legislature were not the ones that put the cameras on the table. It came from law enforcement. They saw they had some of the very same concerns that your question has framed but it is a it is a part of because it can't get to the intent of the officer but hopefully at least it will provide some Avenue for at least what is on the frame judge Bransford. (00:10:52) Yes just from a district court judges perspective anytime that there's something on videotape it's evidence and that can be when you come into court whatever evidence that you have a concrete evidence videotape can sometimes speak louder than how other people interpret things. So to the extent, I believe your question was what guarantee does that there's a videotape have that either Rochelle profiling won't happen. The video tape does not provide any guarantees. All it does is provides a mean for recording and documenting an incident to the extent that the recording or documenting of the incident can later be used in court. It could possibly be used to verify whether or not a individual police officer did an act that was either as Chief any said criminally wrong or civilly wrong, but it's no guarantee that there won't be quote unquote racial profiling. It's just a step keep (00:11:50) any yeah, you know, the judge is perfectly right? Yeah, the thing about the videotape that you have to understand is they're not kept forever. In fact, they are very kept very very short period of time so somebody has complained they have to make the police department know that right away because those tapes are going to be reused and so you maybe you have Our week or two may be as much as 30 days but not anymore than that and those types of back being recycled and being played over and being recorded over so the videotape thing and Ernest and I have to 400 vehicles in the st. Paul Fleet and I have two video cameras. You know, so if you're not capturing even a small amount of what goes on (00:12:32) may I ask one follow-up question here if there is a complaint not a formal complaint, but somebody's really unhappy about the way they were treated. Will anybody take that (00:12:41) seriously, I will they'll finish certainly will yeah, that was one of the missed opportunities in the in the Senate we passed legislation on racial profiling that was the product of agreements between representatives of law enforcement and representatives of communities of color. And in that legislation, which passed the Senate there was actually a process for handling the complaints. Unfortunately, what passed over the strong objections of Representatives of communities of color and sadly I ended up voting against the racial profiling legislation because that was one of the things that we believe should have been in this (00:13:27) Lentil represented static besides you just two things on that one. There is in legislation a 1-800 number to the Attorney General's office and he will be the conductor of the information forwarded on to the state licensing board for peace officers. So law enforcement does take this issue seriously of complaints and then those complaints will be forwarded to the chief law enforcement officers again, she finna Chief Olson the sheriff's in our state in addition all law enforcement officer will have to provide their names and or badge numbers at stops of citizens. That is something that is not in current law, but now is part of department policies Statewide let another audience question. Yeah. I'm with Thomas Adams. He's got a question. (00:14:08) Hello. My question is for mr. Castro in and judge Bransford. My question has to do with plea Bargains and what extent is plea bargain to the best interest of the defendant or to the court system and an African-American community and other communities of color is the notion of public Pretender instead of public. And in some of that notion comes from defendants being expedited through the court system on behalf of the courts. And so my question to you too as to pertain to (00:14:39) that. Mr. Castro. Thank you for the question. It's an excellent question because I think it all ties into how our court system is set up to function it set up to function as a system looking at how efficient it can run. We don't have enough judges. We don't have enough public defenders doing this work and every time you add a new law every time you put another police officer on the street every time that you do something on one end of the system and you don't cover it throughout the entire system. You're going to get these these problems. Now the issue of public Pretender is initially mostly in the media. I say to you our office has some of the best criminal defense lawyers not only in Hennepin County or many A plus but in this country, we win murder trials on a regular basis. We try cases on a regular basis, but plea bargaining is a function of our court system. If we didn't plea bargain the way we currently engage in plea bargaining we would not be able to function without having hundreds and hundreds of more judges and lawyers. But let me say to you that plea bargain is also a function of poverty because of course the people with money spend a lot more time in court working the system if you will, so, of course the people that we represent are the poor people of this community and we do a very good job in that respect. But nonetheless, I agree with you. Could we do better with more people with more resources. We certainly could do better when we think about enacting a new law. We got to think about all that that affects not me it affects. Everybody sitting at this table from the time. We enact the law to the time the commissioner of Corrections commissioner boss gets them. So yeah, I mean, I your question is a good one and it's a serious question and I think that we all of us sitting at this table when we do something we have to recognize how it impacts everyone George Bransford. Thank you for the question plea bargaining is an unfortunate by the real part of the Criminal Justice System. There are 90 over 95 percent of the cases that come into Criminal Court as well as those that go to civil court are settled or resolved in some way without having a full jury trial now, so if you can imagine if we had a full jury trial on all the hundreds of thousands of cases that come or it's been over millions of cases that were filed in the state of Minnesota. Obviously, we'd have to have a lot more Judges, then we have right now. We'd have to have a lot more in every respect. So I don't really think that plea bargaining itself is a negative thing the pot the problem could be the negative impact and what sometimes comes about is where people say, oh, I just copped a plea because I wasn't really guilty but I figured I should or I copped a plea I entered a plea bargain because my attorney didn't have enough time or resources to do the investigation that is problematic and in those situations. It's really incumbent upon the judge the defense attorneys and the person who's being charged to honestly communicate judges aren't supposed to accept guilty pleas from people who sit there and say that they're not guilty. So if they say they're not guilty, but then they say well, yeah, but I just want to go ahead and take the plea. I don't accept that plea because it's like then you have a right to a trial I have had public defenders in Hennepin County. Trials before me where the jury verdict was not guilty, even though they were very serious charges and it looked like you know, if the person was found guilty, they would go to prison. I think what what has a bigger effect even is when the legislature and other agencies put into effect laws such as mandatory minimum sentencing when you have those kind of things one example is there's a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for anyone with a felon in possession of a pistol and felon has been expanded to include a bit not just violent felons, but even people in possession of drugs low-level possession of drugs that might be an example of a type of law that might have a discriminatory effect. It's a good woman, even though that's a good lawful. Please (00:19:20) perspective people that carry guns and want to use them as Lance a good law. (00:19:25) Well, but the point is if it has a man Very minimum five years people don't plea bargain and we have more trials. And so we go to trial and it just clogs up the system in a way because sometimes you have trials on the person is real guilty of the offense, but we have but they have a right to have a trial anyway, leonarda Castro and I want to follow up with that as plea Bargains as a result of poverty. Okay, the the reality is that we get so many people in the courthouse who don't have time to come back to another hearing three or four more hearings because they have daycare problems. They got a job, you know, unlike me they don't get they, you know, four days of vacation every paycheck or or you know, 13 holidays or whatever it is. They miss a day of work they lose their job. So it's easier for them to pay the 50 $75 $100 and get to work as folks want to get on with their lives and that's a huge part of the process in the courts. That that we don't recognize land another question. I'm with Terry towel. (00:20:33) Hi, my name is Terry (00:20:34) towel given that our elected public officials are not representative of the general population. What kinds of task force and committees are currently in place to address the racial disparities in the criminal justice system who decides who participates and how the resources are allocated and how does the community get access and these questions for Senator random and representative Stanek. (00:20:56) Thank you for your question. First of all, as judge Bransford has indicated. There is a supreme court task force that is addressing the issue of racial bias in the in the courts, but I would submit that when we ask that question about criminal justice and disparities that we must look at a broader context because what has come to at least some public officials attention in this discussion of racial profiling is that it really should be viewed in the bigger context of racial disparities in Minnesota in general because what we are now learning is that they're huge disparities in healthcare and Healthcare access. There are huge disparities in teen pregnancy and infant mortality rates. There are huge discrepancies in education K through 12 outcomes special education out-of-home placement and Housing and for those of us that understand that there is a very strong correlation between academic success and juvenile delinquency. Then what we must ask ourselves in it here in Minnesota in the land of the late you would Humphrey is what's going on here. So one of the things that you've asked and I think it's very important and what we talked about you're beginning to understand is we minnesotans who are happen to be Caucasian have a lot of privilege. We need to talk about that and put that issue on the table. There's a lot of denial in Minnesota about the issue of racial disparities in general. We need to talk about it. We Caucasians have to get real uncomfortable talking about an issue that is uncomfortable to talk about and finally those of you who think that there's not enough folks in public policy that are people of color. You've got to start running. You've got to start supporting. People who you think represent you that's how we change things (00:22:59) represented Stanek. Well, thank you and I'm just going to I mean, I assume that you wanted this to paddle to be somewhat controversial as well. So I'm going to dispel one of those myths I mean Senator random is a hemp accounting prosecutor. I'm a Minneapolis Police Officer. We are elected officials and our other lives. And I mean, I think you see your elected officials across this state whether they're local County State. I mean, they are reflective of the different communities communities in which we serve the community in which I live is very reflective of my service in the Minnesota state legislature, but beyond that I mean citizen participation is very important. That's why forms like this this morning of this day long form by NPR and others is important to the to the citizen process and to understand what goes into it to have your voices heard to have the input in the dialogue back and forth with the six of us up here. So I appreciate that before we break here for just a second judge Bransford. I want to ask you a question about the the task force. Core task force as I understand it a hundred and forty four recommendations that over 90 of them have been implemented and at the same time the disparities in the racial or criminal justice system of actually gotten worse. What's going on good question. Yeah are the committee is called the multi cultural diversity and racial fairness in the courts committee. I think the problem is we've had some of the recommendations were things that we could do. They were recommendations such as every judge should have training diversity training. We need to have court certified interpreters because back in 1989 and 1990 when they were putting together the race bias task force. We had no certified interpreter. So people would come in that English was not their first language and even their interpretation that was happening when they were in court was flooded best people not understanding basic Court terminology, so we have been able to The Implement some changes but we have not been able to address probably the most fundamental one which is why is there a discrepancy and increase in fact in the number of African Americans that are going to prison in our state where we historically don't send that many people to prison when you compare it to other states that we use probation as a more as an alternative a lot more so than other states one thing that has recently been implemented by the Supreme Court in this year 2001 is that there is a Statewide race based data collection for all criminal and juvenile and traffic matters. So every time a defendant comes into court now in for a juvenile traffic or criminal matter, we asked their race and the reason that we're trying to get that it's because we need to at least document the Points at which the discrepancies the disparities are increasing is it when is it at the time of the police staff? Is it at the point in which the prosecutor decides the person should be detained? And in custody is of the judge's decision. Is it at the time of sentencing or is it what happens with the jury's so we need to or is it plea bargaining? So but we need to we're getting that data now so that we can at least be able to it's not the answer to the questions. But at least it will point us in the right direction to being able to identify the greater points at which disparities are occurring if you just joined us, I'm Gary eichten today. We're broadcasting a color of justice issues and answers Forum live from the Sabathia Community Center in Minneapolis. This week Minnesota Public Radio is exploring the issue of racial disparities in Minnesota's criminal justice system. And today Minnesota Public Radio Civic journalism initiative is gathered together 40 community members to discuss racial disparities with a panel of Minnesota leaders. They include State Corrections commissioner Cheryl ramstad, boss Hennepin County District Court, Judge tenure Bransford Hennepin County public defender Leonardo Castro. St. Paul police chief Bill Finney state representative Rich Stanek and state senator, Jane random. Just a reminder. If you are invited to share your personal experiences and share your comments on this issue. Just log on to our website, Minnesota Public Radio dot org where you will also find a series of special reports that were broadcasting this week. Again, our website is Minnesota Public Radio dot-org Len other audience question. But yeah, I'm with na Yang. Hi. My question is (00:27:32) for commissioner Ramsey advice (00:27:35) given all of the disparities related to race. Is it possible to work with or have a credible outside agencies such as the people's Institute develop and Implement an anti-racism training model to be implemented throughout the Department of Corrections. (00:27:53) Thank you. Now. I for that question and it's a good to be back here at sabath Annie. The department has had ongoing dialogue with the communities about the issues that are the topic of today's forum. And yes, we do have ongoing training and are most interested in initiatives that can help our staff and our Administration become as sensitive as possible to cultural diversity. We have a number of different ongoing programs within our training department. We have a diversity coordinator within each institution and we have a person at the central office who is in contact department-wide with all the diversity coordinators and they meet on a regular basis to address training and to try to maximize ways in which we can sensitize our staffs. Perspectives to this important topic let another question (00:28:58) with the Roslin Artisan Koenig. She has a question. (00:29:01) Okay. Mine is to share instead boss. And the question is what is the correction system doing to a Carolyn's in their return to society does the current after care system do enough to ensure economic psychological and societies success and what is being done with the families of these felons? You asked a very timely question Rosalind since we have just redesigned our community preservation unit and renamed it the community re-entry unit. You've identified areas in which we have to maximize the tension and focus and it's been my goal since February of nineteen nine. When I became Corrections commissioner to look at the first day a person is in the system as the beginning of their re-entry programming and the focus upon re-entry into Society 94% of the people who serve time inside our state prison system do return to our neighborhoods and our communities and it's absolutely essential that we all recognize that we have to focus on things that make a difference that includes while they're in custody while they're in our custody looking at things that can change Behavior patterns looking at Dependency issues which account for about three-quarters of the people who are inside prison their crimes are related to chemical dependency needs mental health initiatives. It includes education and vocational training and we have also focused on Prison industry and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. So the community re-entry unit is working to build networks of community support that provide re-entry services to address needs in these areas. We had a housing task force that meant several times. We've published a report on some of the housing needs as offenders try to reenter Society. We've also just recently completed an application in which the Department of Corrections is seeking to become one of a pilot number of pilot projects on community re-entry. It's called the Minnesota young offender initiative re-entry grant program. Sponsored through the United States Department of Justice and Department of Labor and we're pleased to be applying for that Grant along with the our partners which include the Minnesota AFL-CIO the Minneapolis Police the st. Paul police the Community Corrections departments and Hennepin County and in st. Louis County. And again, the focus of that re-entry Grant is to try to coordinate all of the agencies that need to be addressing re-entry to make sure that when people come back to their communities, they return as productive contributing (00:32:04) members public defender Castro. Thank you. The question about re-entering the community is a very important one and it ties in closely to the question about elected officials for this reason when you convicted of a felony you lose your right to vote and one of the big problems that we find when when And this primarily affects black men when it coming back into the communities we have problems because you know, your right to vote is one of the strongest rights in this country and it is what gives you the power to be in this country and the power to put people in power and so losing that right and also tying on to losing the ability to get housing to be able to bring families together because you lose your section 8 housing in many situations because of that situation and not being able to get a job because you have the following the all these things strongly impact re-entry into a community and how that impacts of particular community. So even if you want to do the best you can when you get out of jail the workhouse or prison and you want to society doesn't let you we have such a punitive punishing system and not even letting people to recuperate and recover from what may have been a mistake or a tragedy or you know, therefore the Cigar go any one of us. Our society has established a system that prevents us from doing this. So I mean, you know, I strongly feel that getting rid of some of these barriers getting rid of some of these civil rights losses right to vote representative Stanek and I were speaking about this earlier about possibly talking about a bill that could help you get your civil rights back sooner if you're convicted from a felony possibly getting rid of whatever requirements about Section 8 housing on some of these issues or or just getting getting a job back or expunging your record or lot quicker than the processes now, I think we're these are the kind of things we have to do so that when folks come back into the community we give them a even a chance to succeed Jenna round (00:34:19) one. One of the issues that we try to confront head-on when the Senate held the first hearings on racial profiling in June of 2000 was this idea that of course there are more people of color arrested because they commit more crimes we heard from Professor David Harris who is a professor at the University of Toledo law school who had also testified before the US Senate regarding what research if any ghost addresses that issue. He first of all there's limited research, but he cited two studies that are among the most current one is out of the state of Maryland where they looked at. The number of people stopped by Highway Patrol and then determine what the hit rates were. Those are people who are stopped and in which drugs are found interestingly enough there. There was very there was not any difference between the hit rates for people. Of color and and and Caucasians, however, when they looked at the data coming out of a study by the US Customs Department in which interesting enough, I believe it was 43 percent of the people that were stopped where people of color they actually found that the hit rates were higher for Caucasians. Then they were for African Americans and Hispanics this issue I think is important because again, we came head-on on the issue of disparities with the discussion of DWI. I quite frankly am a strong believer that a person that drives a car when they are in intoxicated is just as much a deadly weapon as a gun, but what we found was that the life's experience of many legislators was consistent with what we were finding we were having difficulty in that area. Because guess who is convicted of DWI is disproportionately white males more people new people who look like them. So that's why Minnesota has to have a discussion about how we're dealing with race in a broader context in order to achieve Justice in our Criminal Justice System commissioner ramstad, boss. Well, I think the question also raised the role of the community government can only do so much and we really need to address the NIMBY syndrome, which is not in my backyard. It's one thing to plan and as agencies try to work on housing initiatives, but we found that we have found in Corrections that one of the toughest things is to cite facilities, whether they're sober housing facilities, whether they're sex offender housing facilities, you ask when the last sex offender Community housing place was set up and it's been years. So I think that that it's really important for forums like this and for communities to become involved because certainly government can't do it alone. We need faith based organizations. We need Partnerships with businesses and Community organizations. We need a broad base of support and interaction with labor and certainly to address ways in which the community can pool resources and work together on this (00:37:55) issue Chief any (00:37:57) yes. Thank you Gary as I listened to the comments of Judge Branch first was she identifies the different elements along the system the police officer intervention the courts the corrections Etc and we're in fact that Minority or racial disparity begins now listen to the comments of Senator and them and talks about the discussion needs to take place in every household I couldn't agree with Anymore my 32 years in law enforcement. I know that the the spirit impact of minorities in the criminal justice system in Minnesota is not as relates just to police or just to the courts or just to Corrections. This is a discussion that needs to occur and talk about our perceptions are realities of what's happening with racial interactions in Minnesota. And the fact that Minnesota is not as wide as state as he used to be and some some individuals may have some difficulty with that but Minnesota is not as quite as steep as it used to be and so there are people that are coming and they're coming to stay and if you from all walks of life from different parts of the country and many of them are people of color who have found Minnesota be a wonderful place whether they're not going to leave and so we're going to have to work with all the individuals that here and all the systems that exist and to not talk about ways we can remedy that (00:39:14) disparity. Land another question here Will Nelson has a question for you getting shorter and shorter on time. So I'll be quit everybody's question on Bill Nelson with the Volunteers of America a National Organization located also in Minnesota. My specialty is criminal justice. My question is for judge bands Verdin, mr. Castro and it's related to the question of bail bond. And when a person is is arrested accused of a crime Goes to Jail there seems to be some confusion when it comes to bail bond on the premise that is that person entitled to a bail bond or the arguments. We see in the paper that are that, you know, this person is accused of such a dastardly crime and should only be released over a very high Bond. My understanding is these people are entitled to bond and I don't have statistics. But my sense is there is a discriminatory practice between white defendants generally in Defendants of color is to what they have to pay how long they have to stay in jail or whether they able to make bond at all. Okay judge Bransford. Is that true? Is there a white people and people of color treated differently? That is another one of the aspects that the racial bias task force looked at a number of years ago the point at which the decision is made as to bail or how high bail should be set and whether or not that was done in a discriminatory manner. So there are instruments that are made most every person that comes into court at least on a felony level offense has already seen a probation officer. They've done a pre-trial evaluation that has accessed their criminal history that has looked at other things whether or not they've been in the community for two days or three months or whatever or 25 years and they put all that information which also includes Victim Impact to the extent that they've been able to contact the victim and that information comes before the court and the court has to make a decision based upon that information and the recommendations from the county attorney and the defense Arne as to what the amount of bail should be now there is a constitutional right that people are entitled to bail even though they've been charged with serious offenses the issues before the court is the public safety and whether or not the person is likely to return to court the way that its most discriminatory really impacted is that people with money and people with security are able to pay bail more readily than poor people and you know, it examples of that are sometimes when bails been set really high. I remember a someone who was charged with murder bail was set at a million dollars. The person was able to post the million dollars bail think it was a it was a it was a grocery store are but they posted the million-dollar bail, but then they want they got out but they committed suicide, you know, so sometimes it's safer to keep them in but In any event and a more practical example, is that right now on the general DWI laws the maximum bail is $12,000. So even if I have someone that's come through on two or three prior DWI is or four or five the maximum I can set bail is $12,000. So the rich people can just post the $12,000 and keep walking until their trial and the poorer people either can't get out of jail or they're stuck because they have to pay for Alco sensor monitoring daily monitoring into a device and the trial might take 60 to 90 days. So that can really have discriminatory effect. I think it's more directly related to to economic situation to the extent. There's more people of color that would be negatively impacted by poor economics. It definitely has a discriminatory impact. Mr. Castro to answer your question. Yes, there is a significant disparity between the people sitting in jail and those charged with a crime and those not sitting in jail waiting. For trial reasons. I want to point to what I think are several wealth obviously is the number one if you have the money to get out that and the collateral if you will the way the system is set up then you can do that. But but more importantly you I think that when you appear before I mean what Senator random was talking about about us having a serious discussion on what we base our decisions on WE base our decisions on our life experiences. So when we have non people of color making decisions about, you know values that people of color have those things do I mean, they're not the same. So what I think would be a good reason for you to come back to court or for you to make remain safe that be safe and Society may not be the same reasons you think because our experiences are different but this is I think we're Community can play a real Roll one of the things that I've seen is that the white Community has been able whether it's because of years of established systems to to come into court and say let me take my young man back to Dinah and we'll deal with him in our particular program. Okay communities of color for many reasons have not been able to do that. Okay, and I think this is where Community can have a significant role and you know the conditions again that the court puts upon people the amounts of money that the court puts upon people in order to what traditionally should be for to ensure that they return back to court and to ensure that their safety as just Brantford stated and the safety of others is different based on your life experiences. That's why we need more people of color as lawyers more people of color aft as judges. So those decisions are based more on the Appearances of a people coming before them Jason a question from the audience. Yes. We have Steven Washington here. My name is Steven Washington. I work for the brand Village initiative. And one of the things we look at is the redesign and services for our community. My question States is two ports 12 Senator. Raden. There are 77 jurisdictions who have cameras. That means if Chief any has to there is something like a hundred and forty four cameras in the state of Minnesota. And that was what was financed. So that is not going to get any type of information. But my question goes back to the fact of services being presented to those people that are involved in the criminal justice system and how much money those people are generating for the industry of crying as far as the increase in police. Housing as far as social workers to help with the families and it's ever burgeoning group of people of middle class that are serving this disproportionate amount of underclass and the type of money that is being generated on an economic basis for these people along with the force of having all this free labor available to produce money for the different industries that are also being used within the framework of these communities and we're not hearing nothing about all this money that's being generated just from these people. We just got six floors of jail downtown and now we're getting three more stories of of juvenile homes for African American kids because those who are the people who are in these jail systems. Those are the people who are in these juveniles has okay clock is ticking Senator (00:47:16) random. What I can tell you is many of us in the legislature who believe in prevention by that it we mean not just for we're talking about preventing people from Ever coming into the system, but also going deeper agree with I think his name is mr. Washington and answer the question is what is the cost of what we're spending and interesting enough. We have tried to ask that question in conference committees in the house and the Senate on crime prevention. We've tried to get people to give us what is the cost and quite frankly some of this is so embedded that is very difficult to pull out. For instance. You just described some of the professionals and one of the things that wasn't on and I'm sure you could go on with others is the cost of a de home placement the cost of of children not only for juvenile delinquency, but for chips by that I mean children in need Protective services, so I encourage you to keep asking but really making sure that professionals understand. We've got to have that data in order to invest more upfront which is what most so many of us really believe in (00:48:37) can I ask a simplistic question kind of brings us back to where we started and basically a yes or no answer from each of you because time is running short are more people of color being arrested and incarcerated in the state of Minnesota because they're committing more crimes. commissioner (00:49:01) therein lies The $64,000 Question. I think we're trying to find that out right (00:49:07) now with the studies that are going on Chief any (00:49:12) I don't believe (00:49:13) so. Jenna random (00:49:15) I don't think we have enough information. I think that they hit rates research says we don't know we need to know (00:49:25) mr. Castro. The answer is no but you can only find gold where you look for gold. Judge Bransford. I think the answer is no as well these studies and information that I've seen for instance show that cocaine use is higher in white communities that it is in African-American communities yet African-Americans disproportionately get arrested for the same offense representative Stanek. I don't think you got it yes or no answer out of anybody here and I'm not going to give you one either. I think I mean that the purpose of the criminal justice system is to hold people accountable and I mean, I don't know what the I don't know what the end answer is, but I don't think it's a yes or no to that question. We have a minute left and we were not here to solve this problem. There was no hope of doing that today, but anybody come up with one thing that should be done immediately to at least address this issue anybody with a quick (00:50:19) suggestion? Work together as a (00:50:23) community. I represented Stanek I do I think you know and I last couple weeks. I had a chance to read the first report that was put out by this community group and I think that when we go back in the legislative session of Senator random would agree. Maybe we should take up by this issue invite you down to the the capital or hold our legislative hearing back out here in Minneapolis or st. Paul and talk about some of the issues you brought forward. Let us discuss it on a policy basis. Now you brought forth the issues. Let us discuss it on a policy basis and see what might come of it judge Bransford racial disparity in the criminal justice system is just we have to remember that the criminal justice system is just a subset of society in general and as Senator random said we need to recognize and realize that that we have racism in the state of Minnesota just as we do Nationwide to the extent that we can do something it's to say that we need to discuss these issues in our families among people now and in the legislature your honor you get the last word we're out of time, but we would really like to thank all of you here at Sebastian. For participating in our color of justice for him today. Thanks to all of you from the community who turned out today, and thanks to our panelists st. Paul police chief Bill Finney and up in County public defender Leonardo Castro state representative Rich Stanek state. Senator, Jane random Corrections commissioner Cheryl ramstad Vos in Hennepin County District Judge tenure Bransford. Also special thanks to Tom Johnson and David Ellis of the Council on crime and Justice Who provided our citizens with background on the issues and to facilitator Roslin Carol of Hamline University. It is Forum was organized by Leonard wit executive director of the MPR Civic journalism initiative with assistance from Jason Shaffer and Lindsay Brown. Just a reminder again. You can find out much more about this subject on our website and we encourage you to add your stories to our web site collection, Minnesota Public Radio dot-org Sarah Myers the producer of our programmer Engineers today were Trisha Taylor and Clifford Bentley. I'm Gary eichten good afternoon from the Sebastian e Community Center in South Minneapolis. Atlas broadcast of Minnesota public radio's reports this week on the color of Justice are supported in part by the Minneapolis Foundation a center for giving connecting Resources with opportunities to benefit Minnesota. You are listening to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. Gary eichten will be back in the studio tomorrow and a reminder that tomorrow at noon. It is a live broadcast of a national Press Club luncheon. Speech by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page that's coming up at noon tomorrow Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page at the national Press Club. That's alive National Press Club speech tomorrow at noon on midday. in 1999 in Hennepin County half of all African-American males between 18 and 30 were arrested Minnesota imprisons more African-Americans per capita that Alabama why the color of justice online now at Minnesota Public Radio dot-org, this is Minnesota Public Radio. We have 64 degrees at knoo wfm 91.1 Minneapolis st. Paul Twin Cities weather for the remainder of the day. It'll remain cloudy with the highs in the low 60s tonight clouds moving out but still a chance of some fog and low lying areas for tomorrow sunny and Mild the high close to 65 degrees sunny again on Friday.