Two-part series on racial justice offered in June

Kent Weeklies

REAL TALK invites the public to a two-part Racial Justice series, "Is Justice Truly Blind? Examining the Courts for Racial Equity: From Arraignment to Reentry," on Wednesday, June 2 and 9, at 7 p.m.

This series examines how race, poverty, structural racism, and racialized bias impact the judicial process and outcomes for people of color from bail to sentencing to reentry. The program features Northeast Ohio judicial leaders, support agencies, and formerly incarcerated Ohioans who are actively addressing racial disparities, reforming the criminal justice system, and rebuilding communities.

Hosted by REAL TALK, the series is in partnership with WKSU, The University of Akron School of Law, and The Freedom BLOC.

PART 1: Wednesday, June 2 - "Navigating the System: Arraignment Thru Sentencing," moderated by M.L. Schultze, Social Justice Reporter, WKSU and features Brant Lee, professor of law, assistant dean of Diversity & Social Justice Initiatives, University of Akron School of Law; The Honorable Ronald Adrine, retired Cleveland Municipal Court Judge; The Honorable Cassandra Collier-Williams, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge; The Honorable David Hamilton, Akron Municipal Court Judge; Tania Nemer, Summit County Community Outreach prosecutor; and Cullen Sweeney, Cuyahoga County Chief Public Defender.

Each will explain how defendants navigate the complicated judicial process and what impact race, income, and bias have on each stage of the process: initial charges, bail, pretrial, plea bargaining, trial, conviction, and sentencing. They will address the fraught cash bail system, mandatory sentencing, punitive excess, and cultural representation in the courts and explain their use of diversion programs, alternative sentences, and restorative justice practices to comprehensively restore and rehabilitate Ohioans and stem racialized mass incarceration.

PART 2: Wednesday, June 9 - "Picking Up the Pieces: 'Collateral Consequences' & Reentry," moderated by Foluke Omosun, peporter, WKSUand features Maria Smith, supervising attorney, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; Michael Randle, executive vice president, operations, Oriana House Inc; Perry Clark, founder and president, Truly Reaching You Inc. (TRY); The Rev. Raymond Greene, executive director, The Freedom BLOC; Robin Turner, criminal justice organizer, Ohio Organizing Collaborative; and Walter Mathis, community organizer, Akron Organizing Collaborative.

The panel will explain the barriers to rebuilding a life after the courts with thousands of legal Collateral Consequences and Sanctions restricting access to housing, employment, healthcare, education, and voting. They will offer solutions for bail, sentencing, and reentry reform; and share their own legal support services, mental health & addiction services, training and employment placement, education programs, community re-investment initiatives, and policy reform efforts.

Register for the event at bit.ly/RT_CourtsRacialEquity; Event information and panelist bios at www.realtalklwv.org/criminal-justice.html.

REAL TALK is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program amongst four Northeast Ohio Leagues of Women Voters (Akron Area, Greater Cleveland, Hudson, and Kent), in strong partnership with WKSU, Akron NAACP, and The Freedom BLOC. The program examines the pulleys and levers in Northeast Ohio that perpetuate systemic and institutional racism, discrimination, cycles of poverty, disparities in education, social determinants of health, criminal injustice, environmental injustice, and employment and housing insecurity. Each event features the legislators, experts, practitioners, and community members who create and drive meaningful, sustainable change -- and provides the information and resources to take action. Learn more at www.RealTalkLWV.org.