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Colloquium: Minorities and The Criminal Justice System

  • James Bell - Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (Oakland, CA, U.S.)
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Old Observatory
Sterrenwachtlaan 11
2311 GW Leiden
Room C1.04

The United States leads the world in per capita rates of incarceration. Scholars have argued that these data reflect the country’s addiction to incarceration as a primary instrument of social control. Importantly, research demonstrates that Black, Brown and Indigenous people are arrested, prosecuted and sentenced at higher rates for similar behaviors than their white counterparts. While this is the context in the U.S., other countries are experiencing over-representation for immigrants and religious minorities and others regarding the exercise of social control.

Increasingly with global shifts in populations, nations, regions and localities are grappling with issues of discrimination and incorporation of different cultures into civil society. During this colloquium, James Bell, Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (Oakland, CA), will share information about what he has learned in the U.S. and explore ideas of how the Netherlands can engage these issues in ways that increase civic participation, adhere to international covenants and reduce marginalization for communities of color, with a specific focus on the criminal justice system. Furthermore, Dutch scholars prof. dr. Maartje van der Woude, dr. Sigrid van Wingerden and dr. Jasmina Mačkić will reflect on these issues from different perspectives and/or share their research findings on the role of ethnicity and culture in different stages of the Dutch criminal justice system. The colloquium will be chaired by Yannick van den Brink.

The aim of this interactive session is to exchange research findings, experiences and ideas on the issue of minorities in the criminal justice system in the United States and the Netherlands, ultimately leading to a draft research agenda with topics that deserve particular attention in the coming years.

The colloquium is an initiative of the Department of Child Law, in close collaboration with the Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden Law School. 

No registration

Attendance is free of charge. Registration is not required.

About James Bell

James Bell is the Founder and Executive Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Mr. Bell has been successfully working to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system in over 120 jurisdictions in the United States.  The Burns Institute approach engages jurisdictions in a data driven collaborative approach to go beyond myth, anecdote and perceptions to unpack where, how and why disparities exists in the administration of justice. He works closely with judges, law enforcement, probation, attorneys, community organizations and families to engage the problems of race, ethnicity, religious minorities and immigrants to engage this difficult problem.

Internationally, James has assisted the African National Congress, Chinese officials and policymakers on alternatives to incarceration and worked closely on restorative justice policies with officials in New Zealand and Australia. He has authored several articles and publications and appeared on national television discussing the topic of communities of color and justice.

The Burns Institute is a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Award for Creative and Effective Leadership. Also, James is the recipient of a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship, the Livingstone Hall Award from the American Bar Association, Attorney of the Year from the Charles Houston Bar Association, the Advocate of the Year from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Moral Leadership Against Injustice Award of the Delancey Street Foundation and the Local Hero Award from the San Francisco Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.

He received his J.D. from Hastings College of the Law.


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