Savannah racial equity task force finds vast disparities between white and Black residents – Savannah Morning News – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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After more than a year of examining racial disparities in Savannah, the Racial Equity and Leadership task force releases report, recommendations


A housing voucher program. 

A local cash bail ordinance.

Partnerships to build Black-owned businesses.

Increasing access to healthy food options.

These are just a few of the recommendations put forth by Savannah’s Racial Equity and Leadership (REAL) task force. The group’s report will be presented to Savanah City Council during the Oct. 28 workshop.

Led by former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, the REAL task force includes 45  members from the public, private and community sectors. The group has spent the past year examining racial disparities in the city and used data to identify, prioritize and tackle these issues. 

REAL task force chairman: To address racial equity, community must first face and acknowledge disparities

The task force broke into separate groups to study each of the disparities and completed six separate reports on the selected areas of concentration: criminal justice, economic empowerment/wealth development. education, environmental justice, health, and housing.

Criminal justice

The committee’s report found that Chatham County’s racial disparities largely mirror those of the state. Black males account for 20% of Chatham County’s population, but they account for 68% of the Chatham County Detention Center’s inmate population. 

The county’s juvenile justice system looks similar. Black youth under 18 years of age represent 20.4% of Savannah’s population and 20.8% of the population of Chatham County,  yet they are 76% of the county’s juvenile justice system, according to the report. 

The committee is recommending that a local cash bail ordinance be created by both the county and city along with encouraging the use of bail alternatives ; creating, enhancing and expanding community-based detention, sentencing and re-entry programs. 

Savannah’s task forces: What they’re studying, how they’re progressing and when will they deliver results

Additional recommendations include creating a criminal justice coordinating committee to identify, analyze, and solve or manage system issues, including, but not limited to, budget and resource prioritizing, jail crowding, resource reductions and case processing inefficiencies. 

Implementing an implicit racial bias accountability mechanism, which would be a city- and county-wide system of accountability that audits arrests, charges, sentencing, and all other critical stages of process to ensure a fair, equitable, and race-neutral treatment of parties; creates implicit racial bias testing, training, and accountability of all decision-makers in the criminal justice system. 

Economic empowerment and development

Despite Savannah’s human, natural and creative resources, at least 22% of residents live in income poverty, according

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