Dallas Coalition Drafts Criminal Justice Reform Plan

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With at least one lawmaker’s support, a Dallas coalition wants to test police officers for racial bias, stop jailing people for petty crimes, and transform a criminal justice system that “continues to create animosity between the police force and members of the communities they are sworn to serve,” the Dallas Morning News reports. The proposals–which grew from a series of meetings sponsored by the Morning News and the Dallas Institute of Humanities, dubbed Actions Speak Louder–are still just words on paper. The nonprofit that drafted the reforms, Faith in Texas, has not named any law enforcement groups or power brokers that might push for the changes, though its leaders say endorsements are in the works.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who previewed the manifesto with others on Saturday and has championed many of the ideas in it, couched his support after learning it would discourage residents from reporting petty crimes to police. “No one in here has actually changed how public decisions get made. Not yet,” Faith in Texas’ Rev. Edwin Robinson acknowledged to an audience in El Centro College — near where an enraged black gunman massacred police officers three months ago. The document portrayed broken police and court systems in which blacks are over-jailed, officer training emphasizes violence over peacemaking, and ex-convicts are so stigmatized that they often return to prison.

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