Illinois prosecutors take part in diversity training at 14th annual ethics conference

Experts say diversity training is important to allow the community feel more protected
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 5:33 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - In America, as racial lines start to blur and expression of sexual identity becomes more open, experts say the legal system is following suit.

The 14th annual Ethics for Prosecutors Conference in Rockford works to bring awareness of key components needed to serve every position of their communities.

“Eliminate bias and promote equality, diversity, and inclusion in your profession,” Julia Roundtree Livingston said, the diversity, equity and inclusion manager of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

Winnebago County States Attorney J. Halney, whose office hosts the conference, says he looks forward to the Ethics for Prosecutors Conference every year because it pushes him and his colleagues to be the best they can be in protecting people who need it the most.

“It’s another thing to train our prosecutors how to be an ethical prosecutor and that’s why this seminar is crucial for all the prosecutors,” Hanley said.

Roundtree Livingston understands the importance of conversations on equality.

“We really engage our response according to our own lived experiences and that’s limiting sometimes, so it’s important, you know, as a reminder that we need to familiarize ourselves with different lived experiences.”

Roundtree Livingston spoke to a group of prosecutors at Northern Illinois University’s Rockford campus Friday. She hoped to portray how important it is for clients to be understood.

“The goal is to help all of the attorneys that are attending to leave better and to be able to offer even increased advocacy for their clients,” Roundtree Livingston said.

She also urged state attorney offices to mimic their communities.

“It gives the client a little bit more reassurance that their going to engage in this very difficult time with more dignity,” Roundtree Livingston said.

Hanley says his favorite part about Roundtree Livingston’s presentation was when she educated the room about the importance of recognizing biases.

The conference also included discussions about prosecutors practicing self care to feel less stressed on a case.