James Bell, Director of the California-based Burns Institute has been in London this week to deliver a Centre for Justice Innovation seminar on race in the criminal justice system at the House of Lords, and to meet with David Lammy MP to discuss his review of this issue. Bell is a prominent justice reformer who has has worked with the justice system in over 200 counties in 23 states across the US to build racial equality.
While here, he visited the BBC to appear on the World Service’s News Hour programme. He talked to presenter Tim Franks about the importance of addressing the breakdown in trust between marginalised communities and the justice system saying ‘This is an issue (imbalance of race and justice) which you ignore at your peril. We have learnt a lot from from Mr Lammy’s report that there’s a lot of distrust in communities and you cannot have a justice administration where significant segments of the community don’t trust it…and don’t trust its results.’ He went on to highlight the importance of diversity in the people who work in the justice system saying ‘There should be people that took like you and administer justice like you – more importantly there should be people who know what your life is like. Not only do we need diversity in the bench and the people making those decisions but we need to have relationships with people doing from those communities.‘
You can here the interview in full on the BBC website (the interview begins at 47:20).