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Forum Explores Disproportionate Number of Minority Youth in Norfolk's Juvenile Justice System Oct. 24

Why are so many minority youths locked up? What can be done about it? A panel of community and civic leaders will discuss these issues and field questions from the community about the disproportionate number of minority youth in Norfolk's juvenile justice system at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at Norview High School, 6501 Chesapeake Blvd., Norfolk. The forum is free and open to the public.

(Disproportionate minority contact occurs when the proportion of minority youths involved in the juvenile justice system exceeds their proportion in the general population.)

Sponsored by the city of Norfolk, Old Dominion University's Institute for Community Justice and Norfolk State University, the forum will feature several experts in juvenile justice on the local, state and national levels who will explore the causes, consequences and potential answers as to why minority youth are incarcerated disproportionately.

The forum is the second in a series of public meetings designed to generate awareness of this subject and engage the community. The first was held Jan. 24 at ODU. The Oct. 24 forum will feature a question-and-answer format, directly engaging the panel and community with questions left over from the first public meeting and allowing new questions from the audience. The final forum in the series will be held next year and will focus on solutions.

Marjorie Stealey, principal of Norview High School, will welcome the participants and Clinton Lacey of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, based in San Francisco, will introduce the panelists. Norfolk Councilwoman Daun Hester will serve as moderator of the panel, which includes:

  • Jerrauld C. Jones, Norfolk Circuit Court judge and former director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice;
  • Michael Spencer, chief of operations for Norfolk Public Schools;
  • Bruce Marquis, chief of the Norfolk Police Department;
  • Marsha E. Fink, Norfolk deputy public defender;
  • The Rev. Kirk T. Houston Sr., pastor of Gethsemane Baptist Church in Norfolk; and
  • Greg Underwood, Norfolk commonwealth's attorney.

"The goal of this forum is to increase awareness about the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system, and begin to brainstorm about solutions that will work in our community," said Allison Chappell, co-director of ODU's Institute for Community Justice.

For more information about the forum, call 757-664-7625.

This article was posted on: October 21, 2009

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