ROCHESTER, Minn. – In April of this year, Judges and staff from Minnesota’s Third Judicial District Equal Justice Committee met with around 60 community members from Rochester for a listening session. The committee wanted to hear about their experiences with local courts and justice system and discuss what could be done to ensure that all people are treated equally. The listening sessions are a partnership between the committee and the Rochester Diversity Council.
On Thursday, the court leaders were back in Rochester for a follow-up to the April meeting. They updated folks on what has been done or what steps are being taken as a result of the feedback they collected in April. Some of the concerns from locals included a lack of people of color on juries, implicit bias, and transportation of juveniles. The latter is one that stuck out to the Director of Community Engagement for the Rochester Diversity Council, Torres Hodges.
“They would bring in minority male youth into their hearings with shackles,” he says. “That’s one of the things, I mean for obvious reasons, you can’t bring a minority in shackles on their feet and on their wrists; that’s traumatizing. That was one of the things that I think they were, either they’re almost close to being able to irradiate or they already have.”
Hodges says it is important that the Equal Justice Committee makes the community aware that action steps are being taken to alleviate concerns that were addressed during the first listening session.
“It’s time for groups such as the Diversity Council and the Third Judicial District Equal Justice Committee to ensure that we are actually taking steps based on, the input.”>