The Southold Justice Review and Reform Task Force has launched the second phase of its assessment of the town’s justice system, which will examine how individuals are treated after they’re arrested in town.
The first part of the project focused on policing in Southold. The second will examine the “post arrest” stage of the justice system, according to a website launched by the committee. “The focus of Stage 2 will be the treatment of individuals, including those of Color and other marginalized groups, upon contact with Town Justices, Justice Court personnel, the District Attorney, and public and private defense counsel,” the site says.
The task force will consult with town residents, members of the police department, District Attorney’s and town attorney’s offices and any other relevant group, according to committee members who spoke at the April 26 Town Board work session. As with its review of police, the committee plans to seek community input “on what equitable justice should entail, analyze policies and procedures, and research current expertise on effective and equitable post arrest procedures,” its website says.
At the work session, committee members outlined implementation plans for the upcoming review, which will include court observations by task force members and splitting up into three working groups to expedite the efforts. The group kicked off its process in March with justice system overview training. In April, they began their research, with plans to start an analysis of data in mid-May.
The task force plans to continue using anonymous surveys to gather data on the Southold justice system, which they plan to distribute at the court, online and on social media. The surveys will also be available in Spanish. Those who complete the survey in person will receive a return mail envelope.
Community members and survey respondents will also have the option to reach out to the task force directly to further discuss their court experiences.
Town Board member Brian Mealy thanked the task force for “really being on the front lines of fighting for equity.”
“It’s for every Southold citizen and I am proud that you are bringing this initiative to us,” he said.
The group hopes to submit recommendations to the town by the end of June. More information about the committee and its work is available at southoldjusticetf.org.