Racial Justice Improvement Project (RJIP) Task Force

Racial Justice Improvement Project (RJIP) and Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

The Public Defender is a member of the Montgomery County RJIP Task Force.  This task force is one of seven pilot projects throughout the nation, supported by a two-year grant from the American Bar Association, to identify an area of racial disparity and implement a solution through a team of Montgomery County criminal justice stakeholders.  Initially, the task force reviewed data from various sources, including statistics from the Public Defender Juvenile Unit caseload, to begin to understand how and why certain jurisdictions appear to have disproportionate arrest rates among minority youth.  In turn, the task force has worked to expand the District Attorney Youth Aid Panel program by providing additional case management support to youth at risk of failing their diversionary program in a pilot program in Norristown with a second program to begin in another target jurisdiction in 2016.

The Office of the Public Defender partnered with Norristown law enforcement and City Council members to host a “Weed and Seed” forum bringing youth and police officers together to discuss common conflicts between police officers and juveniles.  The goal of the program is to foster mutual respect and understanding to reduce confrontations and unnecessary arrests of local youth.  More forums are anticipated as part of a DMC initiative and partnership between the Public Defender and Norristown Area Communities That Care.