Demystifying Implicit Bias: Insights for Change

Friday, September 18, 2015, the Commission hosted and co-sponsored Demystifying Implicit Bias: Insights for Change at Gateway Community College in New Haven. This day-long event guided its guests along an exploration of implicit bias and racial anxiety, and how both shape all humans’ perceptions and behavior. For this event, the Commission was honored to welcome Rachel Godsil as its keynote speaker to lead this shared learning experience.

Rachel Godsil is currently a professor of law at Rutgers Law School and the co-founder and director of research for the Perception Institute, a national consortium of social scientists, law professors and advocates focusing on the role of the mind sciences in law, policy and institutional practices. For more on Professor Rachel Godsil, please visit her bio here. To view her PowerPoint presentation, please open the PDF by clicking here.

This event was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Racial Profiling Prohibition Project.

The Color of Justice
On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the Commission held The Color of Justice at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Attendees viewed a 30-minute documentary of the same name on the effect race plays in how Connecticut juveniles are treated in the juvenile justice system. Guests also listened to a brief presentation on the rates of disparity in Connecticut before engaging in dialogue on the topic.

The state’s own studies show that minority children enter the juvenile justice system at a higher rate than their white peers and are treated more harshly there. Research also shows that these differences are not because of how kids behave, but because of the decisions that adults make.

To read “Documentary Exposes State’s Racial Bias”, an April 9th CCSU Recorder article about the event, click here.

Media Center Dedication
New Haven’s Wilbur Cross High School dedicated its media center to Commission Chair, Justice Lubbie Harper, Jr.

“Reducing Disparity in Connecticut’s Criminal Justice System”
The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System sponsored “Reducing Disparity in Connecticut’s Criminal Justice System”, a one-day conference on December 17, 2012, at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The featured speaker was Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project. Established in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration. The agenda for the day may be found here, and a summary highlighting the day’s discussions here.

Op-Ed “Nappier Case Shows Sensitivity Of Police Stops”
To read an Op-Ed, “Nappier Case Shows Sensitivity Of Police Stops,” printed in the Sunday, November 6, 2011 Hartford Courant, authored by Justice Harper in his capacity as Chairman of the Commission, please follow this link.

“Identification and Bias in Criminal Matters: A Collaborative Symposium”
On April 15, 2010 the Commission co-sponsored “Identification and Bias in Criminal Matters: A Collaborative Symposium” at Quinnipiac University School of Law. This symposium was the result of a collaborative effort between the Commission, the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and the Office of the Chief Public Defender, and provided a unique opportunity for state’s attorneys, public defenders and police chiefs to join together to engage in an honest discussion concerning the issue of implicit bias in our criminal justice system. An expert on implicit bias, Professor Jerry Kang of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, delivered a moving and enlightening presentation on this well-hidden, yet omnipresent issue. Taking part in this one-of-a-kind experience during which frontline criminal justice personnel addressed the issue of implicit bias was an estimated one hundred state’s attorneys, one hundred public defenders and several police chiefs from around Connecticut. To review Judge Harper’s welcoming remarks, please click here.

  • On June 7, 2010, the Connecticut Law Tribune published an article about the symposium, written by Christian Nolan. Here is a link to that article.
  • On June 21, 2010, the Law Tribune published a column by Attorney Karen Lee Torre, one of their regular columnists, that was highly critical of the symposium. Here is a link to that column.
  • In response to Attorney Torre’s attack, Judge Harper, the Commission’s chairman, wrote a letter that was published on July 19, 2010. Here is a link to Judge Harper’s letter.
  • Professor Kang also responded to Attorney Torre’s column. Here is a link to his response.

Working Groups
Establishment of Working Groups to address the recommendations created by attendees of the “Disparity in Connecticut: Where are we Now and Where are we Heading?” conference. Please click here to see current members of the Working Groups.

“Disparity in Connecticut: Where are we Now and Where are we Heading?”
This was held at Central Connecticut State University on October 22, 2008. This was the Commission’s inaugural conference which sought to examine racial and ethnic disparities in Connecticut. The event was well-attended with just under 650 attendees. The Commission’s goal for the conference was to inform Connecticut’s decision-makers about the severity of the disparity problem, the ineffectiveness of mass incarceration and the importance of preventing our youth from entering the criminal justice system. The Commission was honored to have Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., the Founder and Executive Director of Harvard University’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice as its keynote speaker. Professor Ogletree is also Harvard Law School’s Jesse Climenko Professor of Law.