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Implicit Bias Training for Justice Professionals


Mecklenburg County, NC – Mecklenburg County’s Criminal Justice Services has designed a new online training program to help justice professionals understand implicit bias and the ways those biases can potentially impact their work with the community.

The online training, "Addressing and Acknowledging Unconscious Bias: Creating a Better Tomorrow," was created in partnership with Criminal Justice Services, the County Manager’s Office and the Criminal Justice Advisory Group (CJAG), with funding from and in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The program is available to judges, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, Adult Probation/Parole, Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department as well as the municipal police departments in Mecklenburg County.

The online training is designed to help users understand and identify implicit bias, the root of implicit biases – and the ways implicit bias could impact decision making in the criminal justice system.

According to recent data compiled by the W. Haywood Burns Institute on racial and ethnic disparities in Mecklenburg County as it relates to arrests, bookings and convictions in 2017, African Americans ages 16 and older made up 32% of the County’s total population, but account for 68% of adults who are arrested and 67% of adults booked into jail. That’s compared to whites who made up 51% of the population but represented only 23% of arrests and 25% of jail bookings.

Additional report highlights include:

Convictions: African Americans (16+) represent 51% of all charges filed and 31% of all charges that receive a conviction.

Charges: For every 1 White individual (16+) with charges filed in 2017, 3.7 Black individuals had charges filed and 1.7 Latino individuals had charges filed.

Convictions: African American adults were 2.1 times more likely and Latino adults were 2.3 times more likely to be convicted, once they had charges filed, in comparison to White adults.

For Every 1 White individual:

  • Booked into jail, 4.3 African Americans were booked into jail.
  • Booked for a probation violation, 3.5 African Americans were booked.
  • Booked for an FTA Order (Failure to Appear), 3.8 African Americans were booked.
  • Booked for an FTC Order (Failure to Comply), 6 African Americans were booked.
  • Booked for "other holds," 3.4 African Americans were booked.

Criminal Justice Services will study data markers following the launch of the training to measure its effectiveness and impact on disproportionalities within the local criminal justice system.

"Criminal Justice Services and its partners have spent the last three years trying to identify where disparities and disproportionalities exist in our local criminal justice system and to what extent," said Sonya L. Harper, Criminal Justice Services Director. "Our findings led to some challenging yet critical conversations about what is occurring and our responsibility as system actors to influence change. We have made a commitment to continue our racial and ethnic disparities work and believe the creation of the unconscious bias curriculum is the first step in the right direction."

Media Contact:Tanisha Anderson, Public Information Specialist, 980-219-0495

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