Discussing Racial Equity, Equality, & Inclusion
District 3 Commissioner of Newton County, dedicated to enhancing the community's well-being. Explore her recent education studies and insights in our newsletter, and join us on the journey towards thriving Newton County.
Addressing Racial Disparities: The CORE Justice Network's Collaboration with Mecklenburg County In December 2022, the CORE Justice Network, consisting of 15 elected officials from various counties, was established. This network facilitates collaborative learning through virtual quarterly calls and in-person peer exchanges, allowing each member to contribute a unique perspective based on their background and education. Among those officials is Newton County Commissioner, Alana Sanders. Under the support of the John T. and Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation, this initiative gained added significance as Mecklenburg County declared racism a public health crisis. In a recent development, seven county officials from the CORE Justice Network visited Mecklenburg County. During their visit, they engaged in discussions with key figures such as the chair, directors, public defender's office, law enforcement, and board members representing county residents. The purpose of this dialogue was to shed light on how Mecklenburg County, in light of declaring racism a public health crisis, has addressed these issues and implemented effective solutions. The exchange of insights and experiences aims to contribute to the ongoing efforts of creating a more just and equitable society.
L-R Commissioner Alana Sanders(Newton, GA), Commissioner Vivian Thomas(Henry, GA), Commissioner MaryBeth Murphy(Guilford, NC), Commissioner Charlie Cavell(Oakland, MI), Chairman Lloyd LaCroix(Pennington, SD), Sheriff, John Idleburg(Lake County, IL), Commissioner Erica Crawley(Franklin, OH)
$26 million a year in affordable housing
Strategic Budgeting for Diversity and Inclusion: Mecklenburg County's Approach In a proactive move, Mecklenburg County has demonstrated its commitment to fiscal responsibility and inclusivity by initiating early preparations for the fiscal year budget. The county engages in a comprehensive budget retreat involving commissioners and staff, ensuring a collaborative approach to financial planning. Diversity and inclusion take center stage as the county's top priority during the budget creation process. A significant milestone in this endeavor is the allocation of $1 million, distributed among 35 diversified sub-committees. This deliberate distribution aims to address a broad spectrum of needs and concerns within the community. Taking innovative steps to combat the challenge of affordable housing, Mecklenburg County has leveraged county-owned land for strategic initiatives. By partnering with non-profit organizations that align with their goals, the county maximizes its impact and extends the reach of its resources. Mecklenburg County's budgeting practices not only reflect a commitment to financial prudence but also a dedication to fostering diversity, inclusion, and social impact within the community. The deliberate allocation of resources and collaborative partnerships showcase the county's proactive stance in addressing the multifaceted needs of its residents.
Seeking Minority Vendors: The County's Initiative
Empowering Minority Vendors: Mecklenburg County's Commitment In a significant move towards fostering diversity and inclusion, the Mecklenburg County Board, led by Chairman Honorable George Dunlap, has placed a strong emphasis on seeking minority vendors. Recognizing the misconception that many held—believing that such vendors were non-existent—the county has taken proactive measures to ensure inclusivity in its procurement processes. To bridge the gap and actively involve minority businesses, Mecklenburg County has compiled a comprehensive list of minority firms. This strategic approach ensures that these businesses stay informed about Request for Proposals (RFPs) and bids initiated by the county, creating a level playing field for all potential vendors. For residents of Newton County, there's an important policy in place that demonstrates a commitment to supporting minority businesses. On October 6, 2020, the Board of Commissioners approved a policy mandating that the county contracts at least 30% of black and women-owned businesses within its jurisdiction. This policy is a noteworthy step towards promoting economic empowerment and diversity within the county. Take a moment to review the details of this groundbreaking policy/resolution below, and join us in recognizing and celebrating the strides being made towards a more inclusive and equitable community. Read Policy
Facts about Mecklenburg County
The county decreased its jail population by 48% (2500 people a day decreased to 1200)
County jail consists of 54.8% Black, 14.1%Latino, and 12.8% White
According to the RED Data Report, charges are filed for 82.1 out of every 1,000 white adults, while for every 1,000 Black adults, 306.7 face charges.
African-Americans account for 76%, while Caucasians make up 13%.
According to Sonya Harper, the Director of Criminal Justice Services, the team has been actively addressing and seeking resolutions to this issue. They've been exploring the key questions:
Who is in our jail? Identifying individuals in our jails
Why are they in our jail? understanding the reasons for their incarceration
Who are we releasing? Determining the criteria for release
Who are we supervising? Examining the individuals under supervision
What are our bond-setting practices? Reviewing our practices for setting bonds
One notable discussion centered around the reasons behind individuals turning to crime. The question raised was, "During times of significant loss, individuals are more prone to resorting to criminal activities." The concept of "Least Restrictive Means" was also explored in this context. To aid in achieving objectives within the jail population and ensuring well-informed decisions, the county has established key positions and boards, including:
Created a Jail Population Coordinator and Jail Navigator Positions
There was a call to action (10 positions and 100 appointments)
The county developed a rubric for its hiring process.
Criminal Justice System Task Force
Criminal Justice Advisory Group
RED Work Group (Racial, Equities, and Disparities)
Criminal Justice Youth Leadership Board- Empower the youth to actively advocate for positive change in both the community and the Criminal Justice System.
Resource Fair- Platform for exchanging information and linking residents to essential services and support.
Community Conversations- Establish trust, foster support, and encourage open dialogue between the community and the Criminal Justice system.
Reduce harm, enhance county resident's relationships, and shape a more equitable criminal justice system
Improve access to community resources.
Strengthen connections between the county and its youth while devising proactive strategies for community transformation.
Creating a Criminal Justice Advisory Group
Building Alliances for Change
Mecklenburg County's success in addressing critical issues is attributed to the strong alliances forged with various departments, directors, officials, judges, law enforcement, child welfare, municipalities, and more. A key element for this success involves gaining support from law enforcement and judges to combat racial inequities and disparities within the criminal system. Inclusive decision-making from all parties is paramount. During the session, Judge Elizabeth Trosch shared insights on her role in contributing to solutions. The Sheriff's Office emphasized the importance of language, ensuring that individuals in custody are not merely labeled as inmates but recognized as citizens of the county. This collaborative approach highlights the significance of partnerships in creating positive change within our community.
Capturing Commissioner Sanders in Action
This photo captures a powerful moment during a discussion where commissioners
were expressing their concerns and engaging in role-playing. Commissioner Sanders took on a role, and the photographer skillfully caught the intensity of the moment.
RED Work Group
The RED Work Group—an assembly of citizens appointed to delve into county issues and address disparities. Mecklenburg County is committed to valuing residents' time and contributions, as evident in their compensation policy for the group:
Fair Compensation: Citizens receive $200 for each meeting.
Weekly Engagement: The group convenes weekly to address pressing matters.
Transparent Process: The appointment to the group involves an application process and adheres to term limits.
This initiative reflects Mecklenburg County's dedication to fostering an inclusive and compensated platform for residents to actively participate in shaping the community's future.
Other Initiatives in Mecklenburg County
Pilot Child Development Account- 529 Accounts for children enrolled in pre-k programs promoting financial literacy
Income Assurance Plan - providing support to returning citizens, formerly incarcerated individuals, and emancipated youth from foster care.
Together Towards Progress
Thank you for taking the time to read about Commissioner Alana Sanders and her commitment to professional development for the betterment of Newton County. It is crucial for our representatives to engage in continuous learning, ensuring they stay well-informed to serve the community effectively. As we appreciate your readership, let's collectively strive for a community that grows, evolves, and thrives. Your support and engagement are vital as we work towards a brighter future for Newton County and beyond. Stay connected, stay informed, and let's continue this journey of progress together.