Based on materials from King County, Washington, and other sources, the Justice Workgroup initially discussed potential areas within the City and County of Peoria where racial inequities may exist. Juvenile justice, bonding and incarceration, and causes of violence were the first three areas to be studied. However, it has been difficult to obtain quantitative data with the necessary racial breakdowns. In addition, there is not an integrated system for data related to arrests, detentions, charges and convictions, which is a significant problem. Due to the need for data, the following areas await investigation on racial inequities: firearm-related offenses, juveniles charges and convictions, County Jail incarceration rates, murders, and domestic violence.
Using data from the 2020 Census and Peoria Public Schools District 150, the workgroup found numerous potential contributing factors to justice-related issues in the Black community, including lack of structure at home, low literacy rates, poverty, easy access to firearms, and social media. Without addressing these underlying social issues, it will be very difficult to achieve racial equity in Peoria County justice systems.
In addition to monitoring the ongoing results of the three current indicators, the workgroup will seek the voice of the community for a better understanding of the issues related to reaching racial equity within the justice systems of Peoria County. We will continue to work with governmental bodies to gather data and pursue working relationships with the other sub-committees and community partners to improve the key indicators. With new relevant data, additional indicators will be added.
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Data from the Peoria County Juvenile Probation Office (JPO) and Peoria Police Department (PPD) revealed that juvenile detentions, juvenile arrests and traffic stops are vastly and disproportionately of Black individuals. Both the JPO and PPD referred to the aforementioned underlying social issues as primary drivers of these inequities.