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No Racial Discrimination in RI Courts, Chief Justice Says (posted August 12, 2001)

Appearing on WJAR-TV show "10 News Conference", Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams denied that there was any racial discrimination in state courts. Asked if minorities faced any discrimination, Williams said, "I don't see it" and added that state judges "don't look at color or gender" when rendering decisions."

Host Jim Taricani followed up by asking if there were no discrimination, why 30 percent of the inmates at the state prison were black or Hispanic, which is well above the group's proportions in the overall population. Williams explained that the high proportion of blacks and Hispanics in the state prison "goes to who is arrested" and noted that other agencies are responsible for who gets arrested. Did that mean there was bias in arrest patterns, Taricani asked? "I don't know," Williams replied. "I have seen no empirical data" that would document racial bias in arrests. He did point out, though, that a court advisory committee was undertaking a survey on the subject.

In other areas, Williams said that corruption in Rhode Island was "no more than other states." He indicated that the state's small size creates a perception of a bigger problem than actually existed. "We have a low self-esteem," he explained.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services