Local & Regional News
3:52 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

UALR's Racial Attitudes Conference Focuses On Disparities In Criminal Justice System

Credit Maggie Carroll

UALR’s Institute on Race and Ethnicity held a conference Thursday to discuss the current status of racial attitudes towards the criminal justice system and incarceration in Little Rock. 

Every year, the Institute for Race and Ethnicity conducts a survey concerning race perceptions and relations in the Little Rock area. This year, the survey aims to look at the growing issue of crime within the city and how race affects perception.

More than half of blacks and nearly half of Hispanics surveyed, say they have “just some” or “very little” confidence that courts treat blacks fairly, while both minority groups are far less likely than whites to contact the police in the event of a crime. 

The panelists agree that pretending there is no “race problem” is not the answer. Among the blacks and Hispanics surveyed, distrust of the police, courts, and legal process came up again and again. 

Assistant Chief of the Little Rock Police Department, Eric Higgins, says developing trust for those who look or sound different is a large part of the issue. He says more focus needs to be on the fact that "we are all a part of the human race."

The discussion of distrust turned into the almost inevitable cycle of incarceration and unemployment that so many families fall into. The survey shows that when a parent is in jail, their children are far more likely to end up in jail as well.

Decisions like these are steps in the right direction towards increasing trust among minorities for the judicial and law enforcement systems. The researchers and creators of the survey hope that the information collected will help to bring people together despite their perceived differences