Report: Utah Minorities More Likely to Face Run-ins With the Law

Report: Utah Minorities More Likely to Face Run-ins With the Law

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News Specialist Sandra Yi reportingAs Utah's minority population continues to grow, a new report shows what state agencies can do to be more culturally sensitive and unbiased.

The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System released its recommendations today.

Utah is becoming more diverse every day. Minorities make up nearly 14 percent of the population in Salt Lake County, and that number is growing.

But there is also a disproportionate number of minorities in the criminal and juvenile justice system.

Statistics show that minorities in Utah are twice as likely than whites to be involved in the criminal justice system.

Commission members say even though Salt Lake may not be as diverse as some other cities, race is still an issue.

"The whole task force effort, when it started, was premised on the idea that we may not have a huge problem, but our population is going to be changing pretty rapidly. Projections are that it's going to go up dramatically. The time to get on the problem is when it's manageable, not after it's become a crisis," says Michael Zimmerman, former Chief Justice for the Utah Supreme Court.

The commission, which includes judges and minority leaders, released more than 100 recommendations for state agencies involved in the justice system.

One of them is cultural competency training for employees. Other recommendations cover areas in recruiting and hiring, language interpretation and community outreach.

The commission was formed after a task force examined the issues of racial and ethnic fairness in the justice system.

The commission says this is an ongoing process. Whether agencies have the money to implement those recommendations is a question. But commission members say - some of them have already put some recommendations in place.

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