Log In - New York Times. Mass Incarceration Is The Enemy Of Economic Opportunity | Co.Exist | ideas + impact. More than 2 million Americans—about a quarter of the total inmates in the entire world—are kept in prisons and jails in this country. The penal state is vast and largely hidden from view. But if you put all those people in one place, they'd amount to a mid-sized city, roughly the population of Houston. Mandatory sentencing, zero-tolerance street-clearance programs, the War on Drugs, and endless tough-on-crime political rhetoric has amounted to an $80-billion annual bill for keeping the 2 million people locked up. Think about the schools, hospitals, tax cuts, and food stamps we could cover with that money instead.
The penal state also reflects larger racial and economic disparities at work in the country. There are many reasons why low-income Americans fail to make it out of poverty, including poor education, housing, or lack of health insurance. Billion Dollar Bets The report sets out three out possible investments. The Safety and Justice Challenge. The Department of Justice just put out a horrifying report on the Chicago Police Department. Cops' Feelings on Race Show How Far We Have to Go. Police line a street in downtown Baltimore in response to protests that followed a rally for Freddie Gray. Patrick Semansky/AP This week, the Pew Research Center released a report entitled "Behind the Badge," a comprehensive survey of nearly 8,000 law enforcement officials across the United States examining their attitudes toward their jobs, police protests, interactions with their communities, racial issues, and much more. The report states that it is appearing "at a crisis point in America's relationship with the men and women who enforce its laws, precipitated by a series of deaths of black Americans during encounters with the police.
" According to 2016 University of Louisville and University of South Carolina study, police fatally shoot black men at disproportionate rates. Since the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the last few years have been marked with protests leading to a national discussion around race and policing. Here are some of the highlights: 40 percent of black Americans distrust the criminal justice system: Why I’m one of them. More People Die in Police Encounters Than We Thought. Police arrest demonstrators at an Occupy protest in Oakland in 2010. Oakland Local/Flickr The number of police-related fatalities in the United States appears to be far higher than the federal government has previously estimated.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has been tracking the data since 2000. But a new hybrid program that combines media reports and crowdsourcing techniques with reporting by police agencies has resulted in new estimates of civilian deaths that are closer to reality. Police reported 444 fatal shootings of civilians in 2014. The bureau's researchers identified 1,348 arrest-related deaths from June 2015 through March 2016 using media reports and crowdsourced information—an average of about 135 deaths per month. The lack of reliable federal data on police-involved deaths received national attention in August 2014 after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. After a Crime, the Price of a Second Chance. Ms. Willis, who owed $690, had a harder time. When she paid all but $240, her case was sent back to court for prosecution. By that time, the arrest had already led to her losing her job, and then her apartment.
At a homeless shelter, she was robbed. Marcy Willis, 52 Arrested in Atlanta Charge Felony theft. “I felt like I was in a grave or a hole and instead of digging the dirt out, it was piling up,” Ms. Though few people have heard of diversion, the practice is increasingly being embraced as a way for the criminal justice system to save people from itself. Diversion is intended to relieve overburdened courts and crowded jails, and to spare low-risk offenders from the devastating consequences of a criminal record. But an examination by The New York Times found that in many places, only people with money could afford a second chance. Robert Lavern Tucker, 56 Arrested in Topeka, Kan. Tennesseans cannot get diversion for drunken driving, but in Oregon it is common.
In Atlanta, Ms. Photo. Businessinsider. It takes a lot to get fired from Chicago’s police department. A review of internal documents by the Chicago Tribune showed that a small handful of the city’s officers were overwhelmingly responsible for the majority of complaints over the last five decades. And even when complaints racked up, firing was uncommon. “In the comparatively few instances that Chicago police found wrongdoing or rule-breaking, firing officers was exceedingly rare, happening in about one-half of 1 percent of cases,” the Tribune reported. The report comes one week after police officials proposed huge changes to department protocol that would curb officers’ use of firearms and stun guns, changes that come amid criticism that Chicago cops too readily rely on potentially deadly force.
Almost 90 percent of all complaints against officers were ultimately found unsubstantiated by the department’s internal investigatory team. But Chicago isn’t an anomaly. Cleveland New York City Baltimore. Half of Wisconsin's Black Neighborhoods Are Jails. 17-year-old Lew Blank researched race and housing in his state and found some disturbing patterns. 17-year-old Lew Blank was fiddling around with the Weldon Cooper Center’s Racial Dot Map when he discovered something disturbing about Wisconsin, where he lives: More than half of the African-American neighborhoods in the state are actually jails. Not only that, but the rest of the black neighborhoods across the state are either apartment complexes, Section 8 housing, or homeless shelters—the lone exception being a working-middle class section of Milwaukee.
Sharing this info on the Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition’s blog, Blank explains that he used the Racial Dot Map to identify where predominantly black neighborhoods—defined as “a certain area where the majority of residents are African Americans”—are located throughout the state. There are 56 of them, 31 of which are either jails or prisons. In Madison, the circled “J” area is the location of the city’s largest jail. This kid is woke. Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Blind Spot. In a national presidential campaign of international significance, America’s police officers have somehow come to occupy center stage. Both major parties seem convinced, and the country seems to agree, that the United States faces a national police crisis, one that traces back to the shooting two years ago of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. Since then, there has been a steady stream of fatal police shootings, with each incident prompting angry protests — and, at least on two occasions, that anger has boiled over into the assassination of police officers.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has now declared himself the “law-and-order” candidate. By contrast, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has scheduled family members of people shot and killed by the police to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week. The incident just described is exceptional only for its brazenness. What do those waiting periods do? Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead. Vigil in memory of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Reuters / Jeffrey Dubinsky) Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, joining a long roll call of black people killed by officials acting in the name of public safety. And so the nation now begins a process so familiar as to have become rote. Many of us will want desperately to know more about these men’s lives, not merely their deaths. After each of the many executions we have collectively mourned, I have grasped for those kinds of details—some reminder that black lives do actually matter, to somebody.
Castile’s killing is still too fresh for details of his life to begin seeping into the public record. These are just a few snippets of the lives taken in the name of public safety. Of course, the ritual of parsing the lives of the dead must also include a consideration of their criminality. In this vein, the now rote ritual of black death will also include much debate about the guns.
LFOs: The Fines and Fees that Keep Former Prisoners Poor. Life after prison can be a huge challenge—and this is definitely true when it comes to money. The formerly incarcerated often have trouble finding work and stable housing because of prohibitions against people with criminal records. But some of the biggest financial challenges for the formerly incarcerated may stem directly from their crimes.
Increasingly, jurisdictions across the country are assessing hefty court fines and fees, called legal financial obligations (LFOs), on defendants, requiring them to pay thousands of dollars or face more jail time, according to Alexes Harris, the author of A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions for the Poor. Harris talked to one woman who was a victim of domestic violence and spent eight years in the prison system for shooting the father of her son.
Incomes of Men Ages 27 to 42 Because they are frequently unable to pay fines, the formerly incarcerated are often forced to pay punitive, high interest rates on those fines. This may be the best way to measure gun violence in America. In Canton, Ohio, one of the most common complaints that police chief Bruce Lawver hears is about gunfire. Shots fired. That unnerving pop of a firearm being discharged. Last year, at least 772 bullets were fired in one tiny part of Canton, a city of 73,000 people. That is more than two bullets every day. Yet, either by luck or intent, relatively few of these projectiles hit anyone. This is how gun violence is usually measured — in the cold calculation of deaths and injuries. But that familiar yardstick misses a lot. It does not account for all the times when a gun is fired in anger, fear or by accident and the bullet simply misses its mark.
“It’s just not the whole picture,” said Jennifer Doleac, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Virginia, who studies the connection between gunfire and crime. [Video: What '374 mass shootings in 365 days' looks and sounds like] The more telling number about gun violence might be “shots fired.” The busiest month for gunfire was May. Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, and the Paranoid Style of American Policing. When I was around 10 years old, my father confronted a young man who was said to be “crazy.” The young man was always too quick to want to fight. A foul in a game of 21 was an insult to his honor. A cross word was cause for a duel, and you never knew what that cross word might be. One day, the young man got into it with one of my older brother’s friends. The young man pulled a metal stake out of the ground (there was some work being done nearby) and began swinging it wildly in a threatening manner.
My father, my mother, or my older brother—I don’t recall which—told the other boy to go inside of our house. That wasn’t the first time I’d seen my father confront the violence of young people without resorting to killing them. The same could not be said for those who came from outside of the community. “What happened to Tasers? LeGrier had struggled with mental illness. Instead, the father called the Chicago Police Department. Legitimacy is what is ultimately at stake here. Tamir Rice Case Spotlights Protections for Police Who Kill.
Although 2015 will go down as the year when the United States began grappling with the problem of police violence, it ended with a trio of defeats for reformers. First, a jury in Baltimore was unable to come to a verdict in the trial of Officer William Porter, one of several officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Several days later, a grand jury in Waller County, Texas, decided that there had been no crime committed in the death of Sandra Bland in a jail cell there. Finally, and most gallingly to many observers, on Monday a grand jury in Cuyahoga County decided not to indict two officers in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Taken together, these cases—and particularly the Baltimore and Cleveland cases—demonstrate yet again the difficulty involved in holding police accountable when civilians are killed. Even as there is greater awareness about the toll that police killings take, police are seldom prosecuted, and when they are, they are seldom convicted.
How Other Missouri Cities Are Like Ferguson. The Department of Justice's Recommendations for Police and Court Reform in Ferguson, Missouri, Will Be Impossible for the Broken City to Fund. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded its civil-rights investigation in Ferguson, Missouri, issuing a scathing report on the practices of the Ferguson Police Department and the city's municipal court system. Today, the city's law-enforcement agency and justice apparatus begin the long road to reform. But the directives given by Justice to the police department and to the court may be at odds with one another. Ferguson relies on court fees to fund its municipal activities. It's a well-documented fact that the collection of court fines represents a significant revenue stream for the suburb. The situation is dire for many. That question may be turned on Ferguson officials now.
So Ferguson needs to fundamentally revise its model for municipal governance. Here's a rundown of the first 12 of the 13 recommendations from Justice for reforming Ferguson's municipal-court system: 1. Many of these steps sound not-insignificant. Municipal court judges . . . are part-time positions. 13. Our Police Union Problem. FOR decades now, conservatives have pressed the case that public sector unions do not serve the common good. The argument is philosophical and practical at once. First, the state monopoly on certain vital services makes even work slowdowns unacceptable and the ability to fire poor-performing personnel essential, and a unionized work force creates problems on both fronts. Second, the government’s money is not its own, so negotiations between politicians and their employees (who are also often their political supporters) amount to a division of spoils rather than a sharing of profits. Third, these negotiations inevitably drive up the cost of public services, benefiting middle-class bureaucrats at the expense of the poor, and saddling governments with long-term fiscal burdens that the terms of union contracts make it extremely difficult to lift.
Finally, union lobbying power can bias public-policy decisions toward the interests of state employees. Police unions do have critics on the right.