|The report that follows seeks to create a permanent legacy of this critical event, and to offer suggestions for action by policy makers and community leaders. It is our sincere hope that the words and ideas shared at the conference and in this conference report will stir others to action to set the state of Arizona on a path to achieving a juvenile justice system that is fair and equitable to all.|
Commission on Minorities Chair Gerald Richard opened the conference by introducing Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas A. Zlaket.
Justice Zlaket stated that there is indeed an over representation of minority youth in Arizona's juvenile justice system. "The issue is not debatable," he said. "I invite any who doubt the existence of over representation to simply visit our juvenile court or detention facilities" to see it firsthand. The question,
|Justice Zlaket stated, is not whether
minority over- representation exists, but why it exists and how we can
begin to reverse this trend. He encouraged participants not to simply go back to their
jobs and place their conference materials on a shelf to collect dust, but to actively seek
opportunities in their daily work to address minority youth over-representation.
"We must put into place policies and procedures to institutionalize a mindset" which recognizes and seeks to correct minority over-representation. Justice Zlaket charged participants to make Arizona a national leader in
|addressing Disproportionate Minority Confinement
(DMC) in the same way it has become a leader in so many other criminal and juvenile court
reforms, including court access kiosks, jury reform measures, and court self-help centers
George Weisz, Executive Assistant and Criminal Justice Policy Advisor to Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull supported Justice Zlaket's assessment, stating that he had personally visited Arizona's juvenile detention centers and seen the disproportionate numbers of minority youth. Mr. Weisz brought