"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear OCU Law Community,
Last week, our Council met with members of our community to discuss our feelings about the killing of George Floyd and the systemic issues related to it. As a result of that conversation, the Dean’s Diversity Council met with our Center for Criminal Justice and Innocence Clinic to discuss long-term projects that we can establish at our institution to address those issues.
The Dean’s Diversity Council, The Center for Criminal Justice, and Innocence Clinic are partnering to develop a task force that focuses on three main areas: Legislative Action, Organizational Reform, and Judicial Action. We will partner with community organizations involved in this reform work to create a coalition that works towards ongoing long-term change. There will also be opportunities to students to get involved. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far. Please share your thoughts by replying to this e-mail. We want this to be a community-driven plan and your voice is important to that.
Our legislative action will focus on providing proposed legislation as well as reviewing existing legislation that deserves reform. We will review existing laws related to excessive force, bias and racial profiling, and laws that allow for loopholes, as well as proposed legislation in other jurisdictions in order to propose comprehensive legislative policy. We are also focused on the creation of databases that provide a searchable listing of police officers fired for misconduct to prevent re-hire in other departments either entirely or unless additional and significant training is required.
While our efforts will be heavily focused on police reform, we recognize that there are other areas of the system that deserve focus. We hope to develop best practices to propose for adoption by police agencies that include alternative responders to mental health and low level offenses, challenging the review process for police misconduct and who is involved, replacing police officers in schools with other trained persons, eliminating awards for officers based on their number of arrests, eliminating chokeholds, and offering guidelines for hiring and training. We hope to move towards actual community policing that includes officers who live in the neighborhoods they serve and beat walks.
When relevant, we hope to be able to support litigation efforts to change the system by writing amicus briefs that support cases to reform relevant laws, issues, and policies as they arise.
We are planning to support this task force in a number of ways. First, through direct student and community volunteer support to provide research and time to develop these goals. Second, through the creation of an annual writing competition that allows for the proposal of fresh perspectives and ideas that we hope to incorporate into our overall goals. Finally, through community engagement. We hope to grow the next generation of leaders by considering online resources, trainings, and more to teach about civics, social justice, and the law.
These ideas are still new, but are moving quickly. We are hopeful to fully launch these efforts in the coming weeks. In the meantime, there are other things you can do to support the ongoing justice efforts. Please check out some of our Council’s recommendations.
Dean Jim Roth and The Dean’s Diversity Council
Perhaps more than any other profession, the law has a special responsibility to promote diversity and inclusion. At OCU, we take this solemn duty seriously. OCU Law fosters an inclusive environment that engages faculty, students, staff, and administration in a commitment to equity, social justice, and intercultural awareness both inside and outside of the classroom.
We strive to maintain: