WXXI AM News

Disparities in criminal justice system discussed at virtual town hall

Nov 13, 2020

Credit Screenshot of a zoom meeting

About 40 people attended a hearing held Thursday night by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity that focused on disparities in the criminal justice system. 

The commission, which was founded in June in response to an order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is expected to analyze policies, procedures, and even laws in Monroe County and the city of Rochester. As part of that work, they’re holding multiple public hearings.

On Thursday, RASE Commissioner Logan Brown said he’d like to create a fair system that anyone can understand.

“I would like for everyone to key in their inner child and think about how you would go about explaining it to a little kid,” said Brown.

How protesters were arrested at recent Daniel Prude demonstrations was a hot topic. Prude suffocated in Rochester Police custody in March, dying a week later. 

Michelle Daniels of Rochester said she's concerned that different protesters were treated differently. Daniels said that Rochester Police, Monroe County Sheriff's deputies and even the FBI intervened at different points.

“Why are we not seeing consistency with protesters, and what is the standard way that they are supposed to be dealt with?” Daniels asked.

The county and city’s recent expansion of the FIT team, which responds to mental health calls alongside law enforcement, was applauded, but Avis Reese said it needs a bigger investment.

“They approved a $400,000 budget for that team for the year, which is insufficient for the needs of the community,” said Reese.

The commission’s next town hall meeting is on Monday. Its focus is on mental health and addiction services.

The RASE commission is expected to present recommendations on policies, protocols and even changes to existing laws in order to create a more equitable government by April.