Report offers four-year plan to increase racial equity in Dane County

Posted, Monday, August 31, 2015 --- 5:32 p.m.

Dane County now has a plan to address racial inequalities. It comes after a six-month study. County leaders said results won't be immediate, but over the next four years, the county plans to implement the whole plan.

"This report is a call to action. Not only for the leadership of the county, for elected officials, but it's really a call to action for all the employees of county," said Dane County Board Chair, Sharon Corrigan.

For the last 6 months, Dane County has stood out among other counties in the state, and even country, by hiring a third party to review its operations.

"Racial disparities require our immediate attention as a united movement," said Supervisor Sheila Tubbs.

The report listed three main items that all of the other recommendations fall into. The first is to normalize racial equity, make it a part of what you think about every day. Then operationalize- consciously think about it when making decisions. And lastly, organize both internally and externally when working with the community.

"It's looking at when you're making decisions thinking, who benefits? Who's burden? Who's not at the table? And what kind of unattended consequences are there of the kind of policy, procedure, budget decisions that we're making?" Corrigan added.

The report listed job recruitment as an area the county needs to work on, along with working to level out the ratio of minorities to whites in the Dane County Jail. In February, the Board said African Americans are 97% more likely to be jailed for drug crimes, than white residents.

"Change doesn't come easy. Or without effort. This is something that we as leaders in the county, whether we're elected leaders, leaders of departments, or employees in the county, we need to lean on each other and make sure that we're making the right decisions to make this happen. And we're keeping each other accountable in our efforts," said Corrigan.

The study was paid for by the Dane County Board of Supervisors and was conducted by the Center for Social Inclusion and the Government Alliance for Racial Equity.