A town hall-style meeting on improving law enforcement and police-community relations will highlight a national conference on fairness in the justice system to be held June 10-13 in Buffalo.
The 27th National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts Conference comes in the wake of protests around the nation that have highlighted distrust between police and communities. The demonstrations have focused attention on police conduct and prosecutorial decisions. But people of color also have long complained of disparities in other areas of the justice system, from sentencing to the treatment of students accused of minor infractions to the effects of court decisions on voter eligibility.
These and other issues will be addressed during the conference, whose theme is “Uniting Communities: Justice for All.”
The meeting will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. June 11 in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo/Hotel and Conference Center.
Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen will moderate the meeting. Panelists will include Alphonso David, New York State deputy commissioner for civil rights; Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III; Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster; Buffalo Deputy Police Commissioner Kimberly L. Beaty; and legal scholars from around the nation.
The conference, hosted by the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, is expected to draw 250 judges, attorneys and others from around the country.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network and host of MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton,” is scheduled as keynote speaker for the opening session.
The conference will examine issues ranging from alternatives to incarceration and how to assure equal access to justice in the courts, to domestic violence and protecting the right to vote during the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
Other conference sessions will probe school discipline policies, implicit bias, Native American peacemaking and its implications for police departments, immigration and the criminal justice system, and “The Business Case for Equity.”
One goal of the conference is to address the perception of injustice and feelings of exclusion among communities of color.
“It is only through knowledge and awareness that we can defend the principles of justice for all,” said Associate Justice Rose H. Sconiers of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. Sconiers is chairwoman of the Judicial Commission and was instrumental in bringing the conference to Buffalo.
For registration or other information about the conference, visit national-consortium.org/. For sponsorship information, call (212) 428-2790.