Generally, information in today's business is usually 80 percent accurate and the other 20 percent is what causes confusion and defeats the purpose of creating unity and openness.
The Black Community Town Meeting on Saturday, March 21, was held to present and discuss the current status of the State Office of Ethnic Affairs Work Plan.The two objectives that most concerned those in attendance were education and the criminal justice system.
The discussion commenced with the concern that minorities in Utah, especially blacks, are treated with bias when it comes to sentencing and probation. This letter is to clarify the misinformation reported in the Deseret News article titled, "Utah blacks' top concern? Jail-ings," dated Sunday, March 22.
Members of the audience brought forth the question of bias treatment of minorities and the disproportionate numbers of blacks in the criminal system at 5.3 percent as compared to the total state's black population of 0.7 percent.
The intern from the Deseret News quoted the Board of Pardons and Parole representative, Keith Hamilton, as saying, "This doesn't make sense; this shows a definite bias against blacks in Utah's criminal justice system."
The actual response from Mr. Hamilton was, "There is a task force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Utah legal system that is still in the fact-finding phases to determine if race has any impact on sentencing of blacks."
The intern also quoted Mr. Hamilton as saying, "There is definitely bias in the sentencing of blacks as opposed to their white counterparts."
The actual response from Mr. Hamilton was, "Studies are being conducted to determine if bias exist in the sentencing of minorities and what to do to correct them if they do exist."
Emma E. Houston, chairwoman
State of Utah Black Advisory Council
Salt Lake City