North Carolinia has formed an interim commission to begin studying racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
The move follows The Fayetteville Observer's report in June that a task force for defense lawyers found that blacks and Hispanics are "systematically searched at much higher rates than whites."
The task force for the N.C. Advocates for Justice also looked into incarceration rates and juvenile offenders by race. The study covered a decade of law enforcement traffic stops in North Carolina.
Among other findings, the report said blacks and Hispanics are "almost twice as likely to be searched and twice as likely to be arrested" as white drivers.
State Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat and the House minority whip, has been selected to serve on the interim commission.
Glazier said Thursday the group will establish a permanent commission to determine the reasons for the racial disparities in traffic stops and prisons and explore how those disparities are being addressed in communities around the state and nation. The permanent commission is expected to make recommendations, he said.
"Confidence in the criminal justice system by every segment of our society is crucial to our security," Glazier said in an email Thursday. "Race continues to be a disparate factor in that system."
The interim commission includes lawmakers, judges, law enforcement officers and representatives of various organizations involving the courts and law enforcement. Glazier is a lawyer.
He said he expects a permanent commission to form by next year.
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