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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 29, 202009:57 AM EST

U.S. Attorney establishes Florida Race Equity Challenge

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Multiple agencies will work together to improve the juvenile justice system.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida is working with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and other Florida Youth Justice Commission partners to launch the Florida Race Equity Challenge, according to a news release from the office.

The Florida Race Equity Challenge is a web-based experience that will provide juvenile justice stakeholders with education and tools to identify and address issues related to race, equity and inclusion within the juvenile justice system.

“The duty to protect and serve all citizens is paramount to our public mission. As we seek to improve the quality of life within our communities, we must entreat greater accountability and responsibility from everyone involved,”  said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez in the release.

Teams include representatives from Florida’s schools, courts, law enforcement, community partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, which includes Jacksonville.

In 1997, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District formed a Hate Crimes Working Group in response to African American church arsons across the Southeast.

In May 2015, the group – renamed the “Civil Rights Working Group” – continued to expand its focus by participating with local, state, federal and community stakeholders throughout the district to address broader issues and concerns.

Those concerns included criminal and civil matters, enhanced training for law enforcement/public safety personnel and educators, developing and facilitating opportunities for civil discourse and providing resources and best practices to advance civil and human rights protections.

The Florida Youth Justice Commission was established to promote juvenile justice system improvement using the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative strategies. One of the strategies is improving racial and ethnic equity with a focus on eliminating bias and creating a level playing field for youth of color.

Along with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, other Florida Youth Justice Commission partners include the Department of Children and Families, Florida Association of District School Superintendents, the Office of State Courts Administrator, Guardian Ad Litem, members of law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

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