The Criminal Justice Task Force in partnership with CRRJ

Confronting Racial Injustice & Historical Narratives

Professor Deborah A. Ramirez founded the Northeastern University School of Law Criminal Justice Task Force in the summer of 2020, responding to calls for criminal justice reform by protesters around the world. Through a framework of subgroups, the Task Force addresses policies and practices within the criminal justice system that disenfranchise the most vulnerable members of our society. The subgroups facilitate communication and collaboration across communities which might not otherwise get the opportunity to work together. With more than 110 members, the Task Force includes representatives from the judicial, legal and public policy communities, law enforcement and academia.

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Confronting Racial Injustice

Confronting Racial Injustice is a free panel series developed by the Northeastern University School of Law Criminal Justice Task Force, hosted by Massachusetts Historical Society and sponsored by a number of other Boston-area organizations and institutions.

The goal of this five-part virtual series is to explore historical events in Massachusetts history in order to probe how slavery, racism and their legacies have influenced and continue to influence the criminal justice system.

The Criminal Justice Task Force’s panel series, Confronting Racial Injustice, was launched on February 18 with a discussion on Slavery, Wealth Creation and Intergenerational Wealth. The experts highlighted New England’s distinctive role as the…

Historical Narratives coming May 2021. For more information on the Criminal Justice Task Force and its programs, visit here.

Police Reform

Working on issues related to law enforcement reform. Areas of research include, but are not limited to, uniform codification at the local level, professional liability insurance for law enforcement, and alternative emergency response personnel for non-violent 911 calls.

Reentry

Working to provide support for Massachusetts' Office of Community Corrections, particularly by establishing a system of community navigators who help returning citizens access state support.

Bail Reform and Restorative Justice

Working to advocate for state bail reform by creating a evaluation matrix that will help judges establish the risk of flight and appropriate bail levels. This work is being done from a restorative justice perspective.

Juvenile Justice

Working on several projects related to juvenile justice, including but not limited to school policing and deconstruction of the school to prison pipeline.

Untold Histories

Working to highlight lesser-known areas of Massachusetts history at the intersection of racial injustice and the legal system. This group plans to do so by hosting a series of expert-driven panels that will explore these topics in significant depth.

Historical Narratives

Working on several of the same issues as Untold Histories; this group is working on several short articles that will become available as educational and training tools.

Latinx Stories

Which is standing up to do similar work as the other history committees, from a Latinx perspective.

Asian Stories

Which will research and publish historical narratives detailing Asian and Asian-American experiences within the criminal justice system.

Faneuil Hall

For years Faneuil Hall, affectionately nicknamed “The Cradle of Liberty,” has been growing in notoriety as Massachusetts confronts the historic building’s ties to slavery.

Faneuil Hall owes its existence to its namesake’s participation in the slave trade and the prevalence of slavery in the North, yet today tourists flock to the landmark with little, if any, understanding of this truth. Accordingly, this narrative includes a history of Peter Faneuil and Faneuil Hall to help academics, politicians and the greater community understand Faneuil Hall’s legacy and the reality of slavery in the North during the 18th century, particularly in Boston. Following the historical component is a discussion of Faneuil Hall today; this discussion suggests acts of restorative justice to strengthen the community and hold Boston accountable for years of retelling an inaccurate history through its silence.

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Harvard Law School

On a national level, Harvard Law School occupies an exalted place in our legal landscape. Locally, the law school is a source of pride; its name is found across buildings and apparel or represented by sitting judges in the federal and state courts. Though the law school is known for its prestige and contributions to the law, such accolades must not overshadow the school’s roots in slavery. As such, this narrative begins with a history of the Royall family, the largest slave-holding family in Massachusetts and whose wealth funded the law school. The narrative addresses past actions acknowledging the law school’s foundation, and also suggests additional efforts to ensure Harvard Law School continues to recognize its history and honor the enslaved persons to whom it owes its existence.

The Charles Stuart Story

On October 23, 1989, Carol DiMaiti was shot and killed in the Mission Hill area of Boston.

Her husband, Charles Stuart, told authorities that an African American man in a black running suit was responsible. This heightened racial tensions in Boston and prompted a manhunt, allowing the Boston Police Department to use stop and frisk tactics on young Black on any pretense. In truth, Stuart fabricated his account and was responsible for his wife’s death. Stuart used his whiteness as a tool of violence to falsely accuse an innocent Willie Bennett of DiMaiti’s murder. This narrative explores the lasting effects of this crime and Stuart’s lie on stop and frisk practices in the Boston area. The narrative concludes with recommendations to raise awareness in police and judicial trainings that can serve to strengthen professional and community relationships.

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Busing & Desegregation in Boston

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court found in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public education based solely on the race of students was violative of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. After the federal courts mandated that schools take an active role in desegregation, the South saw years of progress towards this end; the North, however, resisted such change. Twenty years after Brown, Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity found that the Boston school district remained segregated and ordered students of color be bused to other schools to create a desegregated school system. Unfortunately, the success that busing brought many communities in the South was not replicated in Boston. This narrative focuses on

this failure of busing in Boston as compared to other communities. Against this history is a discussion of the long-term effects of busing and a discussion on how understanding these effects can inform a more equitable education.

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