About the Task Force

The first meeting of the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System took place on November 4, 2010, at Seattle University School of Law.  The meeting was convened by the Honorable Steven C. Gonzalez, Chair of the Washington State Access to Justice Board and King County Superior Court judge, and by Robert S. Chang, Professor of Law and Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law.

Prompted by the remarks of two sitting justices on the Washington Supreme Court, the meeting was called to discuss racial bias in the criminal justice system in Washington state.  The meeting was attended by representatives from the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors, Washington State Access to Justice Board, the Washington State Commission on Gender and Justice, the Washington State Commission on Minority and Justice, the Loren Miller Bar Association, the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, Washington Women Lawyers, QLaw, the Asian Bar Association of Washington, the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Washington, the Korean American Bar Association, Filipino Lawyers of Washington, the Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington, the King County Prosecutor's Office, The Defender Association, faculty members from the three Washington law schools (Gonzaga University, Seattle University, and the University of Washington), and various community and advocacy organizations.

At the meeting, we articulated a set of goals and developed working groups to move the project forward.  The first phase involves developing informational resources on racial bias in the criminal justice system.  The second phase involves bringing into conversation all levels of the criminal justice system and to develop a set of recommendations to address racial bias at the systemic level.  The third phase involves working to implement the recommendations.  Throughout, we will develop educational projects to reach judges, the bar, law enforcement, students, and the public.

We have met three more times.  The Working Groups have convened and have begun their work.  Further information about the meetings can be found in Meeting Notes

We presented our preliminary findings and recommendations to the Washington Supreme Court on March 2. The Research Working Group's Preliminary Report on Race and Washington's Criminal Justice System can be found here.