The annual Iowa Summit on Justice & Disparities opens Tuesday at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Iowa NAACP president Betty Andrews started the summit after becoming concerned about the number of African Americans in Iowa prisons.
“At that time African Americans were 13.6 times more likely to be incarcerated or caught up in the criminal justice system,”Andrews says. The first summit was five years ago.
“At that time we were number one in the nation for this disparity. We are now at 11 times — which is still really high — but we are dropping,” she says. Andrews says the summit tries to bring a lot of different people together.
“The audience is pretty diverse…it is advocates, it is criminal justice professionals, it’s politicians, it’s people who have been incarcerated, the community at large,” Andrews says. “and anyone who is interested in addressing disparities in out state.” She says the goal is to bring people together to come up with solutions.
“It’s not about pointing fingers, it’s about everyone coming together and working together to bring about change,” according to Andrews. “And when we are addressing these disparities, we are also addressing issues for people who are not of color for all. And it makes things better for all.” Andrews says the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for children who were brought the country illegally is one of the things they will discuss.
“We do have a panel this year that is dedicated to DACA. And we are really excited to bring that so that people can have an honest conversation about how the recent changes in the executive order will affect Iowans.” The conference runs from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To find out more about the summit and speakers — got to the website: www.IowaJusticeSummit.org