PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Rhode Island courts are creating a racial justice committee to ensure that everyone involved in the system — from defendants, victims, litigants, witnesses and the public — is treated equitably and fairly.

“It is my sincere belief that we all strive to administer justice fairly and equally,” state Supreme Court Chief Justice Suttell said in a statement Thursday. “Yet it is true that we all harbor unconscious biases that impact our decision-making to one degree or another. It is not only important that we treat all persons fairly, we must be perceived as treating all persons fairly.”

A steering committee has been established to form a Committee on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. The steering committee is made up of active and retired judges from all levels of the state judiciary.

The fairness committee will develop programs and protocols for education and training in implicit bias and make recommendations concerning the impact of race on court processes.

The move follows an open letter in June to judges and lawyers in which the state Supreme Court publicly condemned the “wanton and violent deaths of young Black lives” following the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks.

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