Black community leaders hold town halls in Jackson on criminal justice

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) -In Jackson, Black community leaders held town hall events this week as part of an effort to make sure every voice in the community is heard.

Today’s event was all about pushing for change in the criminal justice system.

Today, community activists and law enforcement came to the Michigan theatre to start a conversation.

Their goal? Improve the relationship between the Black community and the criminal justice system.

“14.8 percent of African Americans in Michigan but almost 50 percent of our prisons are African American. The only way that happens is if the facto we have a system that has been weaponized against African Americans,” said George Lyons, an attorney for George D Lyons and Associates.

He says recent research also shows that 84% of Black adults say they were treated less fairly by law enforcement. Leaders say it’s just part of a bigger problem.

“When certain communities and certain people are deaf, blind, to the issues that their neighbors are dealing with we will never be able to solve the problem because this requires everybody to be involved in the conversations.”

Both the Jackson police department and sheriff’s office say they are working on solutions to build trust in the community, asking for their input with the goal of making the community safer.

“I want to get to the root causes of the problems that the community has with law enforcement so we can fix it, and I don’t want to sit on my hands. I want to actively participate in the solution,” said Jackson Sheriff Gary Schuette.

Lyons says new policy is needed. But it all comes down to a simple message. “Recognize, identify, acknowledge the humanity and the rights of all citizens.”

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