1999 – 2000: Creating the Capacity for Change

Following the conclusion of the Issue Action Team process, CBI’s work in the community continued, based on two strategic goals:

Goal 1 - Institutional Change

Engage and partner with key institutional stakeholders to influence change regarding racial and ethnic inclusion and equity in their institutions, particularly those targeted in Issue Action Team recommendations.

Goal 2 - Community Engagement

Convene, connect and educate the broader Charlotte-Mecklenburg community regarding racial and ethnic inclusion and equity.

In 2000 Community Building Initiative was approached by leadership of the 26th Judicial District to assist with researching evidence of disparity and disparate treatment in the courts. A Resource Team was convened and guided through a 15-month process that resulted in findings and recommendations that were presented to judicial and community leaders.

The 22-member Resource Team was co-chaired by District Court Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell and CBI Leadership Team member Cyndee Patterson. A collaborative study of the courts was undertaken by the Urban Researchers Group at Johnson C. Smith University and the Department of Criminal Justice at UNC-Charlotte.

The JCSU study focused on perceptions of participants in the system, assessed via interviews and questionnaires, while UNC-Charlotte researchers conducted quantitative case review and analysis. The preliminary results of the studies showed that most participants perceive equitable treatment in the system, a perception supported by the analytical study portion of the project.

In addition to these studies, CBI facilitators Nay Howell and Octavia Seawell conducted focus groups with court system employees, District and Superior Court Judges, and Hispanic/Latino members of the community-at-large. Focus group feedback helped to inform analytical studies and allowed for qualitative input into the process. The process was made possible in part by a "Race Will Not Divide Us" grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and funded primarily by CBI and in-kind grants from the Mecklenburg County Judicial System.