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Conference to explore racial disparities in Arkansas justice system

UALR Bowen School of Law

A two-day conference designed to highlight and seek solutions to racial disparities in the Arkansas justice system is set to begin Friday, Aug. 28, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

Black inmates make up nearly 45 percent of the incarcerated population in Arkansas, but only about 16 percent of the state’s population, according to a study scheduled to be presented for the first time during “Reveal, Restore and Resurrect: The Truth about Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System.

Conference flyer“Some findings we were surprised about, and some findings we weren’t,” said Adjoa Aiyetoro, UALR associate law professor and the principal investigator of the two-year study of prison records and charging decisions by prosecutors. Dr. Tara DeJohn, from the UALR School of Social Work, was the lead researcher.

The conference, which has a waiting list for attendees, begins with a 2 p.m. Friday welcome from UALR Chancellor Dr. Joel E. Anderson and School of Law Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz, followed by an overview of the research project’s results and findings at about 2:35 p.m.   

Other portions of the conference are organized into three categories:

  • Brokenness: Examines “the ways in which communities of color have been negatively affected by intentional or unconscious race-based systems and processes that result in racial disparities in Arkansas’ criminal justice system”
  • Restoration: Examines “barriers faced by those who have been involved in the Arkansas criminal justice system to access programs and services that will restore them to fully participating members of society”
  • Resurrection: Envisions “how communities can be uplifted, invigorated and assisted in shedding the burdens of inequality”

Those scheduled to moderate, serve as panelists or present include: Wilbert Rideau, author and journalist once called “the most rehabilitated prisoner in America”; former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker;  Jin Hee Lee, deputy director of litigation, NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Regan Moffitt, associate vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and John Kirk, UALR Donaghey distinguished professor of history and the director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

Attendee registration is at capacity, and organizers are compiling a waiting list. Those registering now will be admitted 15 minutes after the conference begins each day if seats are available.

A schedule of conference events and a link to register can be found at: