Law enforcement officials to discuss racial equality in Charleston’s criminal justice system

Updated: Aug. 12, 2019 at 6:22 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - On Monday night, the Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) will meet with several law enforcement officials and the Solicitor, Scarlett Wilson, for a panel discussion.

The topic will be “Race in Charleston’s Criminal Justice System” and the goal is to “unpack matters of racial equality in Charleston’s criminal justice system."

Executive Director of the YWCA of Greater Charleston, LaVanda Brown, will be moderating the discussion and panelists will include North Charleston Police Chief, Reggie Burgess; Charleston Police Chief, Luther Reynolds; Mount Pleasant Police Chief, Carl Ritchie, and Ninth Circuit Solicitor, Scarlett Wilson.

The overall goal of the CJCC is to improve the criminal justice system in the Lowcountry and cut the jail population. The group says recent data shows the amount of people in Lowcountry jails is going down but people are staying in jail longer. The CJCC also wants to decrease the amount of repeat offenders and speed up case processing. They say this will, in turn, improve public safety and and use your tax dollars in the most cost-effective way.

“This is important,” Executive Director of YWCA of Greater Charleston, LaVanda Brown, said. "Families are affected, citizens are affected, the police officers who are on the street, everyone is affected... I can’t think of a segment of this community that this does not affect in one way or another.”

Last fall, the CJCC was one of 13 organizations in the country to receive a $2.4 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to improve the local justice system. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

Planning Monday’s event is just one way the group has used the grant.

“We did dive into the analysis of race in our criminal justice system,” Project Director for CJCC, Kristy Danford, said. "We did see it was a major issue... it’s a community issue and it affects all sorts of webs both systemic, and social, and community and the criminal justice system itself.”

Anyone is invited to attend to learn more about what’s being done to improve the criminal justice system in Charleston and give their own input. Snacks will be provided and the event will be held Monday night from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Felix C. Davis Community Center in Park Circle. The address is 4800 Park Circle, North Charleston, SC 29405. The group also plans to have more meetings in September to plan for 2020.

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