Five Colleges Including SUNY Poly Form Two-County Partnership for Racial Justice Reform

Five Colleges Including SUNY Poly Form Two-County Partnership for Racial Justice Reform

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 10:51
SUNY Poly Faculty in the News
Research News
Dr. Veronica Tichenor

Please note: Dr. Mark Montgomery, SUNY Poly Chief Diversity Officer and Dr. Veronica Tichenor, SUNY Poly Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Community and Behavioral Health Program will take part as a panelist in the Sept. 30 "What is Systemic, or Institutional, Racism?" discussion, which will be available for free on WUTR/PNY at 7 p.m. and via Zoom at

Please note: Students or organization members are encouraged to register for the webinar at This will allow registrants to ask questions of the speakers; you are also encouraged to take the survey by texting: MVJustice to 898-211.

Partnership News Release Featuring Additional Information is Copied Below:

Media Contact: Vige Barrie, Hamilton College 315-725-7597

Clinton, NY - The College/Community Partnership for Racial Justice Reform whose members include five area colleges – Hamilton College, Herkimer College, Mohawk Valley Community College, Pratt MWP, SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), and Utica College – was formed earlier this year with the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Frontiers Club of the Mohawk Valley, and the United Way of the Mohawk Valley to pursue constructive, equitable change in the criminal justice system locally and statewide. The committee’s diverse membership also includes members of law enforcement organizations, attorneys, elected officials, and members of other groups working on similar issues.

Founded by Hamilton College’s Maynard-Knox Professor of Law Frank Anechiarico, the partnership seeks to be a resource for the community and local government in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and, specifically, to Governor Cuomo's executive order 203. This order requires that all jurisdictions with police agencies forward detailed reform plans to Albany by April 1, 2021, that take racial justice into account and that source local experience and opinion in doing so.  

In addressing this mission, the partnership’s four initiatives include:

  • A survey of experience and opinion about law enforcement, racial justice, and criminal justice more generally funded by Hamilton College’s Levitt Center for Public Affairs and conducted by Zogby Analytics.
    • Use of the United Way's 2-1-1 system to deploy the same survey so that anyone with a text capable phone will be able to have his or her voice heard.  This capability, funded by the Community Foundation, will allow each jurisdiction to collect grass-roots data by persuading constituents to take the survey.
    • An eight-part lecture/webinar/Q&A series that covers Black Lives Matter, police use of force, the treatment of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system, domestic violence, and other issues relevant to effective reform.  The lectures will be delivered by faculty and staff from partnership member institutions. A listing of the schedule is included below. The series will be broadcast by WUTR/PNR and accessible via Zoom at
  • Contact with the chief executive officers of each of the 24 policing jurisdictions in the two counties to open discussion about the way the Partnership’s work and resources can be leveraged by each jurisdiction in the reform process.

The community-based outreach data collected from the partnership survey will be analyzed in a Law and Justice Lab course at Hamilton College. The Hamilton course is offered in coordination with a similar course at Utica College. The Utica College course will collect and analyze data from interviews with criminal justice administrators in a number of jurisdictions, and thus provide feedback from stakeholders. Both courses will also research and compile evidence-based best practices in the wide-range of policy areas related to criminal justice reform and ensuring racial equity.

The last part of the mandated process, the presentation of a plan for public comment, will offer an opportunity to present to residents what the partnership has found from community discussion in the lecture series, the public survey, and research into evidence-based best practices, through public hearings and other means toward a set of policy reforms that will meet the April 1 deadline.

“The colleges in our community are well situated to move the racial equity agenda forward. Our approach to the complexity of criminal justice is to listen to the voices of those served by criminal justice agencies and to form partnerships with ​others working toward racial justice and community​ ​engagement on parallel tracks,” said Anechiarico.This is an agenda shared by the leadership of each institution, and we have been assured of their support.”

Colleges and Community for Unity and Change Coordinating Committee:

  • Frank Anechiarico, Department of Government, Hamilton College, Convener and Chair
  • Anthony Colon, Mitchell International and MVCC Trustees
  • Bernard Hyman, Department of Criminal Justice, Utica College
  • Gbemende Johnson, Department of Government, Hamilton College
  • Marquis Palmer, Office of the Kings County, New York, District Attorney
  • Jawwaad Rasheed, Oneida County Family Court Magistrate and President, Frontiers Club of Mohawk Valley
  • Christopher Riddle, Department of Philosophy, Utica College
  • Veronica Tichenor, Department of Sociology, SUNY Poly

Free Online Lecture/Discussion Webinar Schedule available on WUTR/PNY at 7 p.m. and via Zoom at

September 23 - Black Lives Matter: The Movement and Its Importance to the Entire Community
Where the movement came from, 2020 development including demands to abolish or defund the police, opportunities to address institutional discrimination, establish guardian/community-oriented law enforcement and reform, other community issues, domestic violence, mental health issues, etc.

September 30 - What is Systemic, or Institutional, Racism?
Historical roots, international examples and the current American experience of racism. What forms does it take? The damage done to families, public health, and education. How to restore community wellness in affected neighborhoods

October 7 - Why is Diversity Not Enough? Training and Best Practices for Policing Reform
The need for more diversity in criminal justice agencies, how organizational culture and role identity override diversity’s positive effects, re-forming criminal justice agencies through accountability and inclusion

October 14 - Understanding the Use of Force
Legal standards in New York state, training, interpretations in community, stop/question/frisk, de-escalation and traffic stops, alternative best practices

October 21 - Justice in the Process
Operations of the courts, plea bargaining and the effects of race and poverty, restorative justice as an alternative

October 28 - Punishment and Corrections
Issues in county jails and probation, including education in the jails and re-entry best practices

November 4 - How Are We Handling Domestic Violence and Mental Health Interventions?
An examination of these both in the community and in the courts

January 27, 2021 - Next Steps toward Accountability and Reform
Releases of Records, barriers to accountability or reform, citizen review and oversight. The Utica
College-Hamilton College review of experience and evaluation of citizens and criminal justice officials

Media Contacts:

Vige Barrie, Hamilton College, 315-725-7597
Kayla Ellis, Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, 315-542-4796
Steve Ference, SUNY Poly,, 518-956-7319
Chris Leogrande, Utica College, 315-223-2519
Kira Maddox, Herkimer College, 315-866-0300 x8259
Joe Schmidt, Pratt MWP,, 315-797-0000 x2147