December 8, 2010
Melanie Ford, County Attorney
(218) 726-2323 or firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Louis County Courthouse, Duluth, MN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
American Bar Association Awards Racial Justice Grant to St. Louis County
The American Bar Association (ABA) has selected St. Louis County as one of four sites in the nation to receive a two-year grant to support a racial justice improvement project. The other three grant recipients are Brooklyn, NY; the State of Delaware; and New Orleans, LA.
The goal of the initiative is to create a pathway for local communities to address critical criminal justice issues that contribute to a racially disparate impact in the criminal justice system. Each grantee is in the process of establishing a task force and identifying a pressing issue, and will then create an approach to address the problem. St. Louis County is currently in the first phase of the process, which includes collecting data and identifying issues. During the second phase of the project the task force will implement a strategy and plan of action to address identified issues.
St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford led the effort to obtain the grant, obtaining support from local Judges, the Chief Public Defender, the Duluth Police Department, Duluth’s American Indian Commission, and St. Louis County citizens. Work involving racial justice is taking place at the national, state, and local levels. “This is an exciting and groundbreaking project,” stated Ford. “We are honored to have been chosen by the American Bar Association and look forward to collaborating with other community partners and stakeholders.”
A six-person team traveled to Washington, DC, in October to receive training in developing and implementing the project. Team members include the Honorable John DeSanto; Fred Friedman, Chief Public Defender; Leslie Beiers, Senior Assistant St. Louis County Attorney; Robin Roeser, Deputy Police Chief, Duluth Police Department; Donna Ennis, Co-Chair of the American Indian Commission; and Rebecca St. George, task force coordinator. Work in developing the project continues with the addition of a representative from Arrowhead Regional Corrections, as well as representatives from the Range Bench and law enforcement.