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Our statement in solidarity with the Black community.

Council for Court Excellence Statement in Solidarity with the Black Community & Denouncing Racism

For nearly 40 years, the Council for Court Excellence (CCE) has worked to enhance the justice system in the District of Columbia. To build a legal system that is fair and equitable we must stand in solidarity with the Black community. We must listen to and value Black voices and experiences. We must speak out against racism, injustice, and police brutality. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have once again displayed the persistent violence faced by the Black community at the hands of law enforcement and white Americans who abuse their power and privilege. Change is long overdue. CCE will continue to stand in solidarity with the Black community – both in the District and around the country.

CCE is dedicated to dismantling laws and practices that disproportionately harm the District’s Black residents. Although slightly less than half of all D.C. residents are Black, more than 80% of the people arrested, more than 90% of the people we jail, and 96% of the people we send to prison are Black. The effects of the District’s criminal legal system and collateral consequences of a criminal record are disproportionately felt by our Black neighbors. Racial disparity in our criminal legal system is not new. The United States has a long, tumultuous, and violent history of racism, a history in which the Black community has experienced perpetual injustice and brutality. As an organization that prides itself on supporting some of the District’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents, we must speak out, too.

CCE remains committed to applying a racial equity lens to every aspect of our work, to centering the voices of people directly harmed by the District’s civil and criminal legal systems in everything we do, to learning from our allies and others, and to fighting injustice when it occurs. We remain committed to increasing diversity on our staff and Board of Directors and to using our research, advocacy, and educational work to create a D.C. where Black lives are valued equally and Black people have the means and opportunities to flourish and thrive.

CCE will use our platform to advocate against the injustices that disproportionately affect the Black community in the District’s justice system. Right now, that work includes supporting the Reentry Action Network to advocate for the needs of returning citizens; examining, with the District Task Force on Jails & Justice, how to decrease incarceration and prioritize community-based investments; helping our local courts be more accessible to people who cannot afford a lawyer; advocating at the D.C. Council for stronger criminal record sealing and expungement laws; and changing the laws in D.C. to allow for compassionate release of incarcerated people who could be harmed by COVID-19.

We take this moment to look internally to the ways we do our work, and to recognize the significant privilege that many of us at CCE have. We challenge our non-Black community members to: educate themselves, increase their allyship with the Black community and with other communities of color, use their skills and positions to advance justice, and actively work to create a neighborhood, a city, and a country where Black lives do matter. As CCE, and as individuals, we cannot be silent or fail to act; we must do better and must be better.

To our Black community members, we hear you, value you, and stand with you.
*No judicial member of CCE participated in the formulation or approval of this statement. This statement does not reflect the specific views of or endorsement by any judicial member of CCE.*
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