Lawrence Municipal Court next week will roll out a pilot night court program, which will add an early evening docket once a month to create more flexibility for defendants.
As Douglas County leaders weigh possibly changing or eliminating the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s racial and ethnic disparities work group, some members of the council want the work to get more attention.
Lawrence advocacy group Justice Matters invites community members to an educational meeting about a study that highlighted stark racial disparities in incarceration and found that most bookings into the Douglas County jail are for minor, nonviolent charges, among other conclusions.
The number of people booked into the Douglas County jail with serious mental illness dropped from 18% in 2014 to 10% in 2022 — and hit a low of 5.5% in 2018.
Almost one out of every three Black men ages 25-54 living in Douglas County were booked into the jail between 2017 and 2021.
That number is among findings in a recent report by the Vera Institute of Justice examining incarceration here.
Members of Douglas County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council want to hear from community members what issues they believe are most pressing in the local criminal legal system.
Researchers concluded that there is not widespread bias-based policing in Douglas County, but each law enforcement agency has areas of racial disparity and concern. Members of the Lawrence community have offered some feedback on how they can begin to improve.
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