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Eliminating Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System

Just released: a groundbreaking report with

[an] inclusive examination of the profound racial and ethnic disparities in America’s criminal justice system, and concrete ways to overcome them.

The full report is here. It is co-sponsored by co-sponsored by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions, and the New York County Lawyers’ Association.

The scope of the disparity: [More...]

2.2 million people incarcerated as of 2012, many for non-violent offenses, at a cost of 70 billion dollars. Millions more are under some form of restraint or supervision, either while the case is pending or as component of the final
sentence. A staggering 65 million adults in the United States — approximately one in four — now have a criminal record, and live with the increasing public exposure, civil disabilities and other consequences that flow from a criminal record.

....Mass incarceration [has] consigned 1.3 million African American and Hispanics to prison. According to the latest available figures,
these two groups comprise 58 percent of all inmates, even though they make up only one quarter of the U.S. population

The problem of racial disparity is systemic.

The report calls for advocacy on two fronts:

1. Structural reform at points of entry and sentencing, by ensuring fair and equal law enforcement across socioeconomic and geographic groups and/or repealing policies and practices that drive racial disparities (e.g., racially disproportionate policing and excessive drug and other sentences); and

2. Fair administration of justice reforms to minimize the impact of existing racial and economic disparities, through periodic monitoring, assessment and review of racial outcomes in bail decisions; prosecutorial charging and diversion; post-arrest service programs; and post-release programs that help ex-offenders lead productive lives.

The report finds the second focus, that on assessment, diversion and provision of services, is most likely to reduce problems of racial disparity.

On the broader horizon:

• outlawing racial profiling practices by police;
• strengthening civilian review and control of local police departments;
• reforming bail policies to make release for non-violent offenders the default, and reducing or eliminating the requirement of cash bail;
• bringing transparency and accountability to prosecutorial decisions, especially charging and plea bargains;
• decriminalizing more non-violent drug offenses;
• ending the practice of adjudicating juveniles in adult courts;
• repealing mandatory minimum sentencing schemes;
• repealing zero-tolerance school discipline policies that funnel youth into the criminal justice system;
• reforming “truth-in-sentencing” laws that prevent or delay the consideration of parole;
• repealing post-conviction consequences that impede the successful
re-entry of those with criminal histories; and
• assessing the impact of political fund-raising and corporate contributions on sentencing.

What the public debate needs to be:

Do our laws, policies and practices reflect public consensus on these priorities? If not, what needs to change? How do we move the system away from a paradigm focused on arrest, punishment and social control of communities of color to one that focuses on healing and restoration?

How do we avoid using courts as the dumping ground for difficult or seemingly intractable social problems? (my emphasis.)

It would be nice if those pursuing their personal political agenda using the mantle of racial injustice and disparity in the criminal justice system, as well as representatives in Congress and the Department of Justice, would address the very real and systemic problems that affect all minorities in the criminal justice system, instead focusing on the misfortune that befell one individual and his family, stemming from a single, unplanned, spontaneous shooting on a dark and rainy night in Florida.

The problems that need to be addressed are those outlined in this report. As I've been saying for weeks, the continued focus on one shooting death that only catapulted to national prominence because the media gave too much air time to lawyers with a public relations team advocating on behalf of a single client, is going to take resources and attention from the real problems.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Sorry to keep harping on TM (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by rage of on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:03:09 AM EST
    But he was a disaster waiting to happen.   Product of a failed education system that sent him home to parents that were suppose to be keeping a close watch but did not miss him for a couple of days.  His fb page is enough to give me the creeps and he was a soft drug user.

    The bigger problem is TM like kids are a dime a dozen.  No prospect for a real life  with a job or family.  Is it any wonder so many kids like him wind up in the criminal justice system?  Add in popular culture, music, TV, to a criminal justice system not designed to deal with a fast changing world and the mess is no big surprise.

    Kids from broken homes (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:02:51 AM EST
    .

    Kids from broken homes face much longer odds than kids from intact two parent families.  Martin's school failed him in more ways than one.  Caught with MJ residue, and items matching those taken in a local burglary the school chose not to report Martin (and similar cases) to the police in order to make the school's crime stats better.  Martin may have learned that violating the law carried little consequence.

    .

    Parent

    The obligatory swipe at public schools.. (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:29:49 AM EST
    a little "being tough-on-crime will straighten those young men out.." And a little slanderous heresay about a dead young man, who seemingly could never be shot enough for some of our paranoid, pistol-packin' fellow Americans..

    Like a verbatim transcript from wingnut talk radio. Which it probably more-or-less is.

    Parent

    Please tell us all (none / 0) (#27)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:42:26 AM EST
    how wonderful the public schools are.  It's not like there's any empirical evidence that they are failing miserably.

    Parent
    It's not an absolute either/or (none / 0) (#38)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:28:30 PM EST
    wonderful, or (as the conservative bumpersticker goes) "failing miserably."

     

    Parent

    I think there's plenty (none / 0) (#41)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:03:42 PM EST
    of empirical (as well as anecdotal) evidence to show that public schools have failed minority communities.  Look at the graduation and dropout rates.  Those are indicators of the performance of the institutions, not their unfortunate "benefactors".

    Closing the achievement gap

    Schools are certainly not the only problem, but they are a contributing factor.

    Watch the movie Waiting For Superman.  It will tear your heart out to see the disappointment on the faces of black parents and their children when the insurmountable odds against getting into a good school deny them that opportunity.

    Parent

    what you're missing is that (none / 0) (#44)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:09:11 PM EST
    the public schools are part of a LARGER system..

    It's not like they're some mutated, cancerous growth..

    Parent

    Many big city public schools are bad (none / 0) (#29)
    by rage of on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:51:46 AM EST
    Remember Rachel's famous answer "I can't read cursive writing".   Not exactly a ringing endorsement of public schools.

    Who would hire her or TM?  But my point was not limited to just schools failing black kids.  What kind of parents think nothing of a kid missing for two days?

    This is reality, not talking points.

    Parent

    Big City Schools are bad (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:59:16 PM EST
    in large part because the conservative privatization jihadists having been trying to starve them out after deciding that they could get more vulgar political traction in some quarters by dwelling on the "moral failings" and "poor life choices" of the urban poor rather than rallying society as whole to the cause of utilizing our best resources to ensure that all that human potential doesn't continue to go to waste.    

    Parent
    Big cities (none / 0) (#51)
    by rage of on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 04:39:02 PM EST
    Are almost all run by lobs. Kinda hard to blame cons for problems in places like DC, Chicago, Detroit and a host of other big cities.

    But that was not my point.  Whoever you want to blame the fact still remains kids from bad school systems in broken families where drug use is not discouraged are over represented in the criminal justice system.  

    Changes in the criminal justice system are not likely to solve problems originating out side the system.

    Parent

    actually (none / 0) (#35)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 12:38:39 PM EST
    .

    It was a swipe at the one person that could juice his crime reduction stats by simply reporting less.

    .

    Parent

    actually.. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:16:32 PM EST
    So, you were in no way implying that the police and our criminal detention system are better than the schools at teaching young men like TM a sense of reponsibility?

    Because there's absolutely less-than-zero evidence to support that claim.

    Parent

    "Ask any man (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:44:54 PM EST
    with a long-enough experience of prisons, and he'll tell you that all it takes to harden a man's heart is a system of justice."

    - Gregory Davis Roberts

    Where the school system went off track is when it started looking, acting, and feeling like the criminal justice system.

    Parent

    Well TM learned (none / 0) (#57)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 08:00:44 AM EST
    .

    TM learned by personal experience more than once that being caught breaking the law had no legal consequence.  Just who do you think bears the most responsibility for imparting those highly destructive lessons?

    .

    Parent

    Is that what he learned? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Yman on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 08:31:53 AM EST
    So you're assuming he was committing crimes?

    Did GZ learn those same lessons?

    Parent

    Edit (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:32:55 AM EST
    Kids from broken homes face much longer odds than kids from intact two parent families.

    you forgot the qualifier, poor black kids..  

    Parent

    Do you seriously want (none / 0) (#26)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:41:20 AM EST
    to suggest that poor white kids don't have any disadvantage?  Or poor any race/ethnicity?  Seriously?

    Don't be ridiculous.  ALL poor kids from broken homes face long odds to reach success.

    Parent

    Not What I Said (none / 0) (#28)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:43:43 AM EST
    So give it a rest.

    Parent
    Are you referring specifically (none / 0) (#33)
    by ruffian on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 12:16:53 PM EST
    to TM's parents? Because Tracy Martin reported a missing person early the morning after TM died. Police arrived with pictures that morning. It was not 'a couple of days'.

    Parent
    My bad (none / 0) (#34)
    by rage of on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 12:27:23 PM EST
    Confused with how  long it took for the body to be IDed maybe

    Parent
    Regarding soft drugs... (none / 0) (#36)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 01:09:19 PM EST
    I started using soft drugs recreationally at Trayvon's age, and am still using soft drugs recreationally 20 years later pretty much every day, no disaster has befallen me yet (knock on wood)...I have life, I have happiness, and some but not all of the liberty endowed to me by my creator.  I support myself, I pay taxes.

    One of the problems with the criminal justice system is you literally can't live without breaking laws in this country...and this fosters a disrespect for law and authority unnecessarily, and it starts in high school when most people smoke their first joint.

    I find it rather ridiculous to think Trayvon's use of marijuana is anything but totally normal and natural.  If you haven't broken a law by 18 is what is abnormal....and the problem ain't with the kids, it's with the law.  The war on drugs is modern day Jim Crow, amongst other terrible & harmful things.

    Parent

    Ah, but following the Arrest Proof Yourself thesis (none / 0) (#42)
    by Harold on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:05:18 PM EST
    Are you "clueless"?  Do you consume your "soft drugs" in the quiet privacy of your residence, or do you take them with you everywhere, and perhaps behave in ways that make police suspicious, or that get you pulled over for speeding or whatever?

    Parent
    My residence... (none / 0) (#46)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:22:31 PM EST
    concerts, the great outdoors, you name it.  If I'm out and about for social reasons I'm carrying.  Over time I've learned a trick or two to stay out of the police state crosshairs and avoid any more steel on my wrists and a cage(knock on wood).  The main thing going for me is I'm white, so statistically I am far less likely to be stopped and questioned, or when in NYC stopped and frisked, or searched during a traffic stop.  And far less likely to be arrested.

    This background hopefully illustrates why I find Zimmerman's actions so immoral and offensive...I know how inviting the police into a stranger's life for no or far too few good reasons can really jam somebody up.  Akin to a violent act, the laws being as f8cked up as they are, imo.  

    It's a shame because it doesn't have to be this way, with so much of the population (especially the minority population and youth) fearful and distrustful of the authorities...repeal a couple laws and I might reconsider my strict code of never calling the cops on anybody absent a serious life-threatening emergency.  But until then I just can't be party to throwing anybody into the law and order ringer...I can't have that on my conscience.

    Parent

    I don't know about you, dog (none / 0) (#43)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:07:21 PM EST
    but I do have to wonder sometimes about all these rabid hybrization projects to maximize THC content at all costs..

    I don't know about a kid who's body and mind are still physically maturing overindulging in some of that stuff..

    Are we O.T yet?

    Parent

    Big Time OT;) (none / 0) (#47)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:26:40 PM EST
    Can't speak for the kids but I can only call it a blessing the amazing things growers are doing.

    On the flip, they are developing strains with far less to nil THC for medical use by minors...the innovation goes both ways and it's all positive imo.  Keeping the kids away till they are mature enough is just anothe reason to repeal prohibition...when I was Trayvon's age it was easier to score reefer (or 'shrooms or even heroin) than it was to score some beer.

    Parent

    Hmm (none / 0) (#48)
    by squeaky on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:32:50 PM EST
    Much of these high THC plants are indoor, grown fast to maximize profit. I much prefer the varieties that have a long growing season, with lots of natural sunlight and fresh air. The long growing season allows for more complex vitamins to develop in the plants, and lots of active ingredients too...  humbolt...

    Parent
    Greed (none / 0) (#49)
    by jondee on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:35:40 PM EST
    still the worst contaminant on the planet..

    Parent
    I haven't finished reading (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:16:23 PM EST
    the report yet, but at this point my conclusion would be that the most traction could be gained by changing police practices.  A comprehensive review of all laws on the books, to include the revocation of ridiculous laws such as putting feet on a seat and antiquated laws that no longer apply (such as not tying your horse to the saloon door) seems to be in order.

    Then a review of police training, tactics and assignments, to include things like Harold described.  It is NOT OK to try to "drum up" a crime by inciting an individual to run away or otherwise react in what would be an understandable manner to a perceived threat.

    Police departments ought to have, as their major focus, the prevention and solving of major crimes, especially violent ones.  Minor offenses could be dealt with by simple tickets, if they're really necessary at all.

    If you don't attack the reasons people are entering the system to begin with, dealing with the consequences is like trying to clean the kitchen after the flour has been spilled.  You're better off trying to figure out how to keep the flour from spilling to begin with.

    More (none / 0) (#1)
    by Semanticleo on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:46:57 PM EST
    A comprehensive report from a credible source, but is this more day-dreaming from disconnected persons who have compassion in their hearts?

    I don't see anything about Florida's recidivist behavior by insisting on the 'right' (SCOTUS 1970) to secure as few as 6 jurors for criminal trials, excluding capital crimes.

    Can anyone of sound mind explain to me how 6 representatives of the community are the statistical equivalent of 12?

    How can anyone of average intelligence and average ethic/mores tell me how the taxpayer savings of daily juror pay and mileage is the equivalent of that glaring disparity in achieving justice?

    disconnected persons? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:57:31 PM EST
    the groups that came together to address the issue include the most expert in the field and represent all sides: judicial, defense and prosecutorial, as well as research scholars and advocates for the formerly incarcerated.

    They aren't focused on the problems in Florida but problems that exist nationally and in a number of states.

    If your concern is Florida, perhaps there is a Florida group addressing it.

    Not to press the point (none / 0) (#3)
    by Semanticleo on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:11:32 PM EST
    But, Florida is not the only state using this provision.

    Just an FYI

    Parent

    I didn't know this until the GZ (none / 0) (#5)
    by Teresa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:27:27 PM EST
    trial and it shocked me. I realize states have the right to decide their own sentencing rules, etc., but I think it should be a federal right to have my case heard by a jury of twelve rather than six.

    A person is more likely to get a hung jury (if that was looking like my best case scenario if I were on trial for something) and I also think it's easier to get a group of six to cave to dominant personalities than it is twelve.

    As far as Jeralyn's post, I understood Focus #2 the most and agree completely. I wish I still had the link, but I posted the other day about a study that showed blacks get 30% longer sentences for pot cases. That's just not right and things like that are a whole lot more important than what the DOJ is doing today with their email campaign.

    Parent

    I guess I'm naive (none / 0) (#4)
    by txantimedia on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:12:47 PM EST
    Others challenged the predisposition to fix people rather than institutions. "We need to distinguish between those who have chosen a life of crime, and those innocent people who the system has chosen to criminalize," said Deborah Small of Break the Chains, a drug policy reform organization, referring to the thousands of young men of color arrested each year for putting their feet on a bus or subway seat, or carrying an open container of alcohol -- behaviors that are routinely ignored in white communities.

    People are actually arrested for putting their feet on a seat or carrying an open container of alcohol?  Is this really happening?

    With all the crimes that need to be solved, it's amazing the police can find time to arrest people for this.  In fact, I'm stunned that these laws even exist.  Putting your feet on a seat is a crime???  In what jurisdiction?  Who's doing this?  Why is this the first time I've ever heard about this?  In what crazy world are these actually crimes?

    Hardly ground breaking (none / 0) (#6)
    by rage of on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:37:14 PM EST
    Not that I disagree with much of the report but my first reaction was "tell me something I  don't know".

    Substitute TM for a multitude of young black males from failed public schools who's pArents don't even notice he is missing till a couple of days after he is dead and it seems clear the problem is much larger than the criminal justice system.

    Well sure, but (none / 0) (#7)
    by txantimedia on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:41:03 PM EST
    when you're arresting people for putting the feet on a bus or subway seat, something is seriously wrong with the justice system, especially when such a ridiculous charge is used to unfairly target one or certain groups.

    If a cop tried to arrest me for that, I'd say, "Are you kidding me?  Don't you have something useful to do?"

    Parent

    And when you gave the cop the questions (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:58:45 AM EST
    "are you kidding me?  Don't you have something useful to do?", he'd be quite likely to chicken-wing you, grind your nose into the floor, cuff you and add resisting arrest, failure to obey the lawful command of a law enforcement officer, obstructing justice and obstructing governmental administration (or whatever those offenses are called in your locality) to the list of charges.  If, in the tumble from seat to floor your leg or arm happened to hit the cop, you would stand a good chance of adding aggravated assault on a law officer - usually a felony, depending on the jurisdication  - to the list.  

    Cops' existence and jobs depend on them catching criminals.  They get no credit for turning loose the innocent.  If they can't find anyone who's guilty, in the eyes of their bosses they are bad cops and to be gotten rid of.  They want to keep their jobs.  The solution is to create criminals where there are none. That makes everyone on the law enforcement side - from cops to police chiefs to prosecutors to court employees to the folks running and supporting (logistically) the prison system - quite happy as it guarantees a steady stream of people to be run through the system, keeping them employed and making a buck.

    And, to the incredulous asking where it is that putting your feet on a bus or subway seat is a crime, it's in just about any jurisdiction with a bus or subway system.  The idea is to prevent the homeless and poor from finding sanctuary from the weather or, God forbid, sleeping, on the public transit system.    

    Parent

    That's an incredibly cynical view (none / 0) (#12)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:34:24 AM EST
    of law enforcement.

    Parent
    It isn't (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by DebFrmHell on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:18:41 PM EST
    I was homeless for about 9 mos.  I was just nasty to behold.  Riding on buses was the only way to sleep in a protected area and I did that during the day.  I didn't want to sleep at night because I was afraid.

    They make those rules/laws to protect other citizens from people like me...  If anyone wants to look at people who have absolutely no representation in regards to law, they should look to the homeless.

    Parent

    You haven't hung around cops and courthouses (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by scribe on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 11:56:51 AM EST
    long enough.

    It's accurate.

    And, if you read the reported cases on failed civil rights suits - the ones that get dismissed - you'll find out it's even worse than I write.

    I once counseled a black cop, who came into my office considering suing about his civil rights being violated by a bunch of white cops (ultra-scary traffic stop which nearly resulted in his being shot) after he complained to his boss about prisoner maltreatment, that he was probably wasting his time and money pursuing the proposed suit.  The state of the law then was that the cops who stopped him could have executed him on the side of the road and been held civilly immune and paid nothing.  The state of law has gotten even worse in the 10 or 12 years since.

    If you get a cop - one with the capacity for reflection and sense - alone in a non-confrontational situation and get them talking (e.g., in a boat, fishing, with a couple beers), you'll find out that they:

    hate domestic violence calls because those are the ones perceived as most dangerous for them, but nonetheless love them because the children growing up in those DV homes are the future feedstock of the criminal justice system and the adults are the current feedstock.  In other words, the cops have no interest in rectifying the underlying causes of domestic discord because it means their jobs and pensions are secure.

    • have no problem going ultraviolent in any situation where they feel their authority might be challenged because they know the judges will back them up - the judges' jobs and/or reputations are on the line and no one wants to be soft on crime, let alone criminals

    • are great order-takers, possibly the best anywhere, and do what is necessary to keep their jobs and pensions, regardless of the morality or legality of the order.  This, because they know their bosses will back them up on it.


    Parent
    Cynical perhaps, but is it true? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Harold on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 08:21:43 AM EST
    See my comment #10 below; this is major part of Arrest-Proof Yourself and is well documented in the book.

    It was reified for me when I retired a few years ago to my small-medium sized home town and had a police officer play a game of chicken with his car and my body.  Unlike the vast majority of locals, I was a seriously competent pedestrian from the time I'd spent on the East coast, especially the Boston area.  So I realized his vehicle would miss me by a bit more than 6-12 inches (mirror vs. body) and successfully stared him down.

    I cannot come to any other conclusion than that he was trying to generate a "fleeing the police" arrest statistic, by prompting me to "run away from that crazy cop who's trying to kill me!".  All he would have had to do is shout "Stop, Police!" and unless I stopped right then I would  join that 1/4th of the population the report mentions as having a record.

    Parent

    I would report a cop like that (none / 0) (#20)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:01:57 AM EST
    I'd get his license number and call him in immediately.  I'd be on 911 while he was still there.  That's unacceptable behavior.

    Are you black?  I ask because I have a good friend (young fellow) who dated one of my daughters for five years.  Sometimes they would be discriminated against (e.g. restaurant seating), and my daughter wouldn't put up with it.  He would always tell her to calm down and not make a scene.  (She never followed his advice.)

    His inclination was to not stir up trouble whenever he was confronted with racism.  My inclination is to embarrass the daylights out of them and get them fired.  I refuse to let racists get away with it.  It's not in my nature.

    Your behavior in the incident you related surprised me.  I would not have let that pass.

    Parent

    Interesting (none / 0) (#25)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:32:58 AM EST
    His inclination was to not stir up trouble whenever he was confronted with racism.  My inclination is to embarrass the daylights out of them and get them fired.

    and yet, you believe TM should've just walked away from GZ or been a little more deferential?

    Do you not see the irony in your statements and your posts here about the Zimmerman case?

    Parent

    No I do not (none / 0) (#30)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:53:59 AM EST
    see the irony, because you're comparing apples to oranges.  There's a world of difference between confronting a racist waiter in a public restaurant or a racist clerk in a retail store and confronting an unknown person in the dark of a rainy night with no knowledge of what their motives might be.

    Had I been in Trayvon's shoes I would have called 911 immediately.  Then I would have tried my best to get out of the follower's sight line so he could no longer follow me.  Once I felt sure he couldn't see me, I would have gone into the house and locked the door, still on the phone with 911 describing what was going on.

    Parent

    No argument about it being unacceptable behavior (none / 0) (#32)
    by Harold on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 12:06:46 PM EST
    But I've never been on the radar of the (local) authorities (well, aside from getting concealed carry licences) and I plan to keep it that way.  You know, the "Don't talk to the police" thesis, for any reason whatsoever unless you must involve them, like trying to call first in a self-defense situation or getting backup.  If I suffered from a burglary I wouldn't call them unless I needed a police report for my insurer.

    I'm white, appeared to be 20-something then.

    Another aspect of my behavior might pertain to this, the town being culturally part of the South and an old mining town.  I won that engagement, didn't need to do anything more.  The concept of calling someone to complain really isn't in my mental universe.

    Parent

    Now you begin to understand (none / 0) (#17)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:44:20 AM EST
    and it ain't just law enforcement (none / 0) (#18)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:45:25 AM EST
    Back in the 60s (none / 0) (#8)
    by rage of on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:55:24 PM EST
    The line was "why don't you arrest some hippies for smoking pot".

    But more to your point LEOs claim these silly arrests are useful in dealing with known criminals they can't charge with something else.  Not e endorsing that, just noting it.

    Parent

    incarceration rates (none / 0) (#9)
    by jjr on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:48:44 PM EST
    An issue in the beginning of the reports is whether the main problem is the massive incarceration rate or the racial disparity. I think the reasons for the largest-in-the-world incarceration rates are agreed upon. From about 1980 to 2005 the incarceration rate quadrupled. During the same time period property crime rates dropped significantly and violent crime rates dropped slightly. Incarceration rates increased because of sentencing laws (mando mins, three strikes, etc), reduction of parole, and a huge increase in incarceration of drug offenders. The country has shifted to the right on these issues, and the private prison lobby is very strong. I cannot see incarceration rates decreasing dramatically any time soon. Most of the issues addressed in the report, besides those just mentioned, are just nibbling around the edges of the incarceration rate issue.
      Although incarceration rates are on a slight downward trend in the last several years.

    Depends on how you pick your time period (none / 0) (#19)
    by Harold on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:57:54 AM EST
    See e.g. Wikipedia using FBI/BCS data, click on the "show" link next to "Year".

    Violent crime peaked in 1991, a 21% increase from 1980, but from that peak it's dropped 49% as of 2011 (and it went up a bit in 2012).

    I wasn't aware "the private prison lobby is very strong".  E.g. I thought they are on the decline in Texas and that the "Kids for cash" scandal gave them impossibly bad press.

    Parent

    I picked the time period to coincide (none / 0) (#52)
    by jjr on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:07:42 PM EST
    with the huge incarceration rate increase to show that it was not the result of increased property or violent crimes.

    As for the prison lobby, you may be correct that I over-generalized from my state where (ex?)lobbyists now are part of the executive branch.

    Parent

    After further research (none / 0) (#54)
    by jjr on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:37:34 PM EST
    I renew my claim about the prison lobby. There is a lot of info and scholarly work on the influence of ALEC, CCA, GEO, etc.
    A short summary of the influence of ALEC can be found in this Krugman column.

    Parent
    I prefer an initially race neutral approach (none / 0) (#11)
    by Harold on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:23:08 AM EST
    Echoing e.g. the above thread started by rage, and the report, e.g.:

    repealing post-conviction consequences that impede the successful re-entry of those with criminal histories;

    We have a general problem that I've found best expressed in a thesis developed in Arrest-Proof Yourself.  It goes roughly like this:

    For some time (say since the early '90s) "real" crime, which the police are still pretty good at dealing with, has been decreasing.  But we haven't seen a commensurate decrease in the size of what I've taken to calling the police-judicial complex.  E.g. no overall layoffs at the courthouse driven by lower crime rates vs. e.g. local budgeting issues.

    This has been achieved in large part by a significant diet of what the book's authors refer to as "the clueless".  E.g. the sort of people for whom parole is a trap ensnaring them deeper into the complex with more "crimes".

    Recidivism rates have not changed significantly. (none / 0) (#55)
    by jjr on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:39:47 PM EST
    So this cannot explain the increase in incarceration rates. Though I would be interested to know the racial breakdown of recidivism. I had seen somewhere that black recidivists were disproportionately affected by three strikes-type sentencing.
    I suspect that most of the racial disparity evidenced in the difference in arrest vs incarceration rates are caused by these institutionalized discriminatory practices rather than individual discriminatory acts such as my be addressed by jury selection practices.

    Parent
    You left out some highlights (none / 0) (#16)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:43:20 AM EST
    Role of Bias. Most panelists and attendees agreed that both systemic and individual bias -- often unconscious and unintentional -- are at work, and combine to produce jails and prisons that are largely filled with black and brown men and women. Whether that bias originates from "animus or an absence of empathy or indifference doesn't really matter," said Zachary Carter, a partner at Dorsey and Whitney and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. "From the point of view of those stopped, the insult to personal dignity is the same, regardless of the motive of the officer who makes the stop."

    and this:

    Voir dire. At trial, defenders should make motions and present experts to educate courts about implicit bias. The question "Can you be fair and impartial?" is not sufficient, said Rapping. "All jurors harbor racial biases and we need to get at these in voir dire to understand their experiences, not simply their aspirations."

    Same would apply to prosecutors too I would think.

    Jeralyn, I applaud your efforts here to get the word out.  While you are right about it being difficult to change people, we need to be honest about the root causes in order to be able to come up w/effective solutions.

    Having just been through voir dire (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Towanda on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 03:14:02 PM EST
    as a potential juror (in a horrible case with similarities to the Zimmerman-Martin case), I have a lot of thoughts about how to improve that step.  

    Most Truthful Potential Juror Award went to the woman who, when we were asked whether we would have problems with the credibility of witnesses to be called said:  "I think that all cops lie."

    By the way, she is white and middle-class. (We discovered that we grew up in same neighborhood, went to the same grade school, a couple of years apart.)  She does work in inner-city schools.

    Now, how do we improve a system in which, only after the jurors were selected -- so they ought not be following the news -- the local media at last report that the judge in the case is the father-in-law of the defense lawyer, but the judge decided to not recuse himself?

    That nepotistic situation gets more interesting now, as the judge ought to be admonishing the defense lawyer for stopping the trial in a way that has local law experts stunned, something they never have seen in decades-long careers here.

    Sooooo glad to not be on that jury, now having to head into many more days due to the delay -- if they are not dismissed due to a mistrial or other reasons now being discussed.  

    Parent

    That's a crock (none / 0) (#21)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:05:20 AM EST
    "All jurors harbor racial biases and we need to get at these in voir dire to understand their experiences, not simply their aspirations."

    Baloney.  Some do.  ALL do not.  That statement is evidence of bias in and of itself.

    Parent
    Evidence of bias (none / 0) (#23)
    by vicndabx on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:30:10 AM EST
    as is your recent revelation that police will arrest people for silly crap like putting their feet on a seat.

    Nonetheless, bias need not always have the negative connotation you ascribe to it.  Bias is another way of saying "lack of experience with."  

    Parent

    Please! (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by txantimedia on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:57:49 AM EST
    In the context of the report, bias does not refer to "lack of experience with" something.  Please don't insult our intelligence.

    Parent
    "Our"? (none / 0) (#56)
    by shoephone on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:52:09 PM EST
    Who is "our"? Is that like using the royal "we"? If not, maybe just speak for yourself. And, hard as you want to deny it, everyone has biases.

    Parent