Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP to host annual criminal justice seminar

Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP to host annual criminal justice seminar

June 1st, 2016 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

NAACP National Director of Criminal Justice, Carlton Mayers II, right, talks with Warbrit Lowery, left, and Eric Atkins Saturday at the NAACP 8th Annual Criminal Justice Seminar at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

If you go

What: Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP’s 9th Annual Criminal Justice Seminar: Focus on the Community: Our Struggles! Our Strategies! Our Solutions!

When: 8:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: UTC University Center

For more information or to RSVP call 423-320-8598

Rep. JoAnne Favors talks about her plans for the session during the Times Free Press sponsored Legislative Roundtable Tuesday at the newspaper.

Rep. JoAnne Favors talks about her plans for...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

If local NAACP officials have their way, the school-to-prison pipeline will stop. More schools will use restorative practices to reduce suspensions and more young people will do well in school, said Jennifer Woods, education chairwoman for the organization.

"What is happening in education now is that behavior problems that used to be administrative are becoming criminalized because of the presence of school resource officers," Woods said. "Things that principals used to handle, now they call in the resource officers and the child is arrested for disorderly conduct."

Even some resource officers are not happy with that, but it happens, Woods said.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP will host its 9th Annual Criminal Justice Seminar Saturday. The event, called "Focus on the Community: Our Struggles! Our Strategies! Our Solutions!" is scheduled from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the UTC University Center.

"We want people to come because criminal justice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century," said Eric Atkins, NAACP secretary and event coordinator. "We can't get jobs or education right until we hit some of the institutionalized flaws associated with the criminal justice system."

The seminar will include judges, attorneys and police officers seeking to share knowledge of how the criminal justice system works and to improve community relations. Woods will discuss the school-to-prison pipeline and ways to avoid it.

Parents and youth will share their experiences and learn more about how to interact with law enforcement.

Founder Curtis Greene, Chattanooga State Community College's police chief, said he established the event to give the community a better chance to understand more about law enforcement.

"I see people [who] just don't know the right way to interact," said Greene, who will speak on a panel about people knowing their rights with UTC professor Gail Isles, Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw and other featured panelists.

State Rep. JoAnne Favors is bringing members of the Legislative Black Caucus to speak about how recent legislation may be helpful to the community. Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, will lead the discussion.

Camilla Bibbs-Lee, executive director of the Hamilton County Coalition of Chattanooga, teams up with Captain of Special Investigations Edwin McPherson and Pedro L. Bacon, director of internal affairs with the Chattanooga Police Department, to do an interactive presentation encouraging youth not to take drugs.

"If we can keep teens off drugs in their youth, they are less likely to become drug addicts as adults," Bibbs-Lee said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.