From my LEAP colleagues – I am a member of their Speakers Bureau :
Leading up to Election Day, LEAP speakers played a major role in criminal justice and drug policy reform efforts across the country, and yesterday, our hard work paid off!
Keep law enforcement speaking out for reform
Five key state campaigns successfully spoke out for more rational and effective policies with LEAP’s help:
• Florida: Amendment 4 passed, meaning more than one million people who have served their time for felony convictions will have their right to vote restored.
• Louisiana: Amendment 2 passed, ending non-unanimous juries in felony trials, a practice established under Jim Crow to maintain white supremacy in the state.
• Michigan: Prop 1 passed, legalizing and regulating adult use of marijuana.
• Oregon: Measure 105 was successfully defeated, blocking a repeal of laws protecting local police from being compelled to enforce federal immigration policies.
• Washington: Initiative 940 passed, requiring law enforcement to receive de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training; and to change standards for use of deadly force, adding “good faith” and independent investigation standards similar to those other states have successfully implemented.
Our speakers made more than 30 appearances in key states leading up to Election Day, giving interviews and live presentations, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, appearing in campaign ads, and serving as the law enforcement voice for reform. LEAP was instrumental in getting these measures across the finish line. We are so proud of our speakers’ tireless efforts and outstanding impact.
There’s still work to be done. Ohio’s Issue 1, which aimed to downgrade many nonviolent drug felonies to misdemeanors and bring a focus to rehabilitation and treatment, was defeated, as was North Dakota’s Prop 3, which aimed to legalize marijuana for adult use and expunge marijuana convictions. Though we’re disappointed in the outcomes in those states, we know that we’ve made significant progress. Our fight will continue, stronger than ever, and we will see real change, even in the places where we’ve struggled hardest. Especially in those places, because that’s where change is most needed. That’s where LEAP is most needed.
Thank you for being a part of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Ken. Supporters like you help get our speakers where they need to be, get our message to the masses, and – most importantly – drive our speakers and staff to keep working toward real, tangible change to our criminal justice and drug policies. Our collective public safety depends on it, so you can count on LEAP to keep things moving in the right direction.
Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
This is pretty wild. In one case, it took 11 years for an officer to be disciplined! Thank God the system is getting tightened up, but we can only wonder what it is like in other cities. And guess who paid for the $642 million in police misconduct and brutality cases paid by Chicago from 2004 to 2015 … the taxpayers!
Excerpts from the Article:
The Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) has endured criticism for officer misconduct. An investigation by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune found that the city’s archaic system for disciplining officers allows it to avoid or long delay discipline, allowing officers who should be off the streets to be on patrol.
In one case, it took 11 years for an officer to be disciplined. That case involved CPD officer William Levigne. He told investigators that on an October 2006 evening, as he was driving home, that Walter Whitehead, who was driving his 16-year-old son Brandon home from work, cut him off. The Whiteheads said Levigne overtook them in his Monte Carlo as he pointed his gun at them, then ordered them out of their car at a stop light, forced them out of the car, and handcuffed Walter. Levigne called 911, asking for help from “a brother in blue,” as he blocked traffic. “I’ve get two offenders in custody—tried to kill me here!” As Levigne was not in uniform, Brandon was terrified and called 911, too. “Can you hear him?” Brandon asked the operator. She could. “Off the (expletive) phone!” Levigne yelled.
The Whiteheads filed a complaint with CPD, doubting Levigne would face discipline. “I never expected him to,” said Walter Whitehead. “We know how the system works.” While CPD’s disciplinary system is faulty, a civil suit netted a $78,700 settlement for the Whiteheads from the City of Chicago.
Initially, the Independent Police Review Authority (“IPRA”) found that Levigne was wrong, and it recommended a 60-day suspension. Levigne filed a grievance through the police union, and eight years later, the city, in 2014, reduced the suspension to five days and removed the finding that Levigne lied about the incident. That same year, Levigne was promoted to detective, but his discipline for the 2006 incident was not placed in his record nor did he serve the suspension until 2017.
How could such an important matter languish for so long? CPD still uses a paper system for officer-discipline cases, so when paperwork gets moved on to another stage, such as an appeal, nothing occurs until the paperwork returns to officials responsible for closing the matter. Without a computer system to track disciplinary cases, they can languish for years.
After video of a police officer shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times went public in 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and pushed for a new ordinance that revamped the IPRA. Actually, the IPRA was shuttered and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (“COPA”) replaced it on September 15, 2017. Yet, the COPA is just as hamstrung as the IPRA. “Even if COPA gets everything right, there is this process that happens after where things can go off the rails, and that is what people should focus on and be concerned about fixing,” said Sharon Fairley, COPA’s former chief administrator who resigned to run for Illinois attorney general.
Records are still kept on paper and shuffled between COPA and CPD. To assure cases are not lost in the shuffle, new rules are in place. “Since the beginning of this year, the department has started a review into older cases that have a final disciplinary determination to ensure that they have been processed, that officers have properly served their discipline if applicable, and that the cases are ultimately closed,” said CPD spokesman Frank Giancamilli.
The COPA was intended to create transparency, but it cannot release its report on any case until it is final. “The longer the delays, that diminishes trust and it diminishes transparency by not providing a prompt window into how the agency charged with investigating police misconduct is conducting its investigations,” said University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman.
In early 2017, the U.S. Justice Department found that significant delays contributed to an ineffective disciplinary system. Without the fear of consequences for improper actions, some police officers feel they can act with impunity. That is costing the City of Chicago millions in settlements. According to an estimate from the Better Government Association, from 2004 to 2015, Chicago paid $642 million in police misconduct and brutality cases.
See related articles on jury nullification. YOU, as a juror, have the power to provide justice where the law is unjust! In today’s wildly dysfunctional criminal justice system everyone should be aware of this! Your DUTY is to do JUSTICE!
Excerpts from the Article:
There’s not a single person that has to go to prison in the USA for growing, selling, using, or possessing marijuana. But 21 states still prohibit marijuana use, cultivation, or sale in any form, even for medical use. Everything cannabis related is still illegal at the federal level. As a schedule 1, highly illegal drug, marijuana is considered just as dangerous and addictive as heroin. Yet PEW Research says 62% of Americans nationwide support marijuana legalization. So it is reasonable to think that about 7 or 8 people on any randomly selected 12 person jury disagree with laws criminalizing marijuana. And those people have the power to deliver a not guilty verdict, based on their belief that marijuana laws are unjust.This is one example of how jury nullification can be used to erase or nullify, bad laws.
In the United States, all accused criminals have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers.
Adults from the area where an alleged crime was committed are chosen to hear the court case. They have to weigh the evidence. And if they have any reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime, they are supposed to deliver a not guilty verdict. But not everyone knows that juries can also deliver a not guilty verdict when they disagree with the law. So say all the evidence clearly shows that, for example, a veteran was growing marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As a juror, you do NOT have to deliver a guilty verdict, even if you are 100% sure he committed the “crime.” Instead, you can disagree that it should be criminal at all, and say not guilty. Unfortunately, defense attorneys are often not allowed to argue in court for jury nullification. The judge can force them to only argue the facts of the case. They usually cannot suggest that the jury find the defendant not guilty because the law is unjust.
Some states, like New Hampshire and Oregon, have tried to pass laws requiring courts to inform juries of their right to nullify. New Hampshire’s bill would require courts to inform juries that even if the facts point clearly to guilt, “you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.”
Of course, prosecutors will do everything possible to give the impression that the jury must decide the case based on the facts, and a strict reading of the law.
In the 1969 Court Case United States v. Moylan acknowledged that juries have an “undisputed power” to acquit, even if that verdict “is contrary to the law as given by the judge, and contrary to the evidence.”
Because of this “mistake” on the part of prosecutors, the man will get a new trial on federal drug charges. But that doesn’t mean the jury will necessarily know that they have the power to nullify the bad laws he is being prosecuted under. United States v. Moylan also said that the court can refuse to allow the jury to be instructed on jury nullification.
Thomas Jefferson gave another good reason to use jury nullification. He said juries should deliver a not guilty verdict if the defendant’s case “relates to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias.” In other words, if the defendant was simply exercising a basic freedom that didn’t hurt anyone, he should be found not guilty. It doesn’t matter if he broke the law, freedom is more important.
And then he adds, if you suspect a biased judge, you should also rule not guilty.
And consider the history of racism in the justice system dating back to when slavery was legal in the south.
Even then, northern juries used jury nullification for laws relating to slavery. For instance, the Fugitive Slave Act compelled northerners to help return runaway slaves to the south. Juries could use nullification to declare northerners who violated this act not guilty.
There are countless instances in today’s courts where jury nullification would be appropriate. It just depends on the specific facts and circumstances of each case.
Victimless crimes are violations of the law that don’t actually hurt anyone. If you can’t point to a victim, it means no one was actually hurt by the criminal actions. That is why possession of drugs is a victimless crime–having drugs in your pocket doesn’t actually victimize anyone. The same goes for laws criminalizing sex acts between consenting adults, code violations, or failing to get a business license.
It is better to let guilty people walk free than to send an innocent person to prison. If the evidence rests solely on inherently fallible witnesses, or if there is any reason to believe the witnesses, prosecution, or court is corrupt, you should consider jury nullification.
Jury nullification needs to go mainstream. Every juror walking into a courtroom should know that they have the power to deliver a not guilty verdict if they disagree with the law that was violated, or suspect corruption from the police, prosecutors, or judges. Tell everyone you know, especially when they get called for jury duty.
The Whole Story:
CALL ME – MY EXPERIENCE
FOLKS – this means YOU! If you know anyone with a criminal justice question, a legal question, tell them to CALL me!!! Not a bunch of type type type… CALL 302-423-4067. I work every day from about 3 or 4 a m until 8 or 10 pm. I hate to toot my own horn but the FACT is I am able to help most (over 95%) of those who call. Not because I am a friggin’ genius, but because there are few people on this planet (any??) with the experience I have*! Just tell them to CALL me!!
Jeez!! I get too many calls from people who have called several idiot lawyers or all the wrong people! The right people? Someone who can actually SOLVE THE PROBLEM!
*And what is my experience? Here are a few highlights Law Clerk to Supreme Court of Delaware, Deputy Attorney General, Defense Counsel and General Law Practitioner, student of the criminal justice system for the past twelve years (think about that- all of law school is 3 years; I have been immersed in learning all about the criminal justice system problems/solutions for twelve years now. and that is in addition to the ten years when I was practicing full-time!), Addict, Prisoner, Member of Rotary International, Entrepreneur (owned and built several very successful businesses), President of Legal Aid, Founder and President of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Inc., Business Broker (Broker’s Real Estate license in Florida), Professor – teaching law courses at 4 different colleges, homeless person and counselor to thousands.
There is no charge to talk to me and pick my brain. CALL 302-423-4067.
I have won more than 700 trials (lost 2), have gotten many people out of prison early, prevented many, many more from ever going to prison … I HATE to “toot my own horn”, but what are you waiting for?? CALL ME! Everything I do is free, unless it is a ton of work!READ: Practical Tip – There is ONE way to win – Be Prepared!
All of law school is three years; where we are taught contracts, wills and estates, torts, evidence, and about a dozen other subjects. While in prison I spent four years doing nothing but studying criminal justice issues for 18 hours a day, every day, from B4 the sun rose until after it set [the lights are on 24/7 in those isolation cells!] , and I have been IMMERSED in all such issues for nearly thirteen years now! With the work I do now, I have been getting hundreds of articles every month concerning all sorts of criminal justice issues, some of which I put here on this website and in my Newsletter. ! Think about it!!
The most dramatic example of how totally fucked up out criminal justice system has become is that we are convicting hundreds of innocent people every year. See related articles for how it got this way, much more on this issue, and all the causes of wrongful convictions. Several states, thank God, now have CIUs , usually within the office of the prosecutor= Conviction Integrity Unit.
I was a prosecutor for 5 years, and from day one it was clear to me that my job was to produce justice…. any doubt about guilt, I dropped the charges. Today a prosecutor needs the approval of “higher up” idiots in the office in order to drop charges. There is ZERO chance that I convicted an innocent person. Too many idiot prosecutors today think their job is just to convict!
Newly appointed New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has directed his prosecutors to take over an investigation into the 1993 murder conviction of two men who might be innocent. He also formed a panel to consider whether New Jersey should establish a “conviction review unit” to look at claims of possible wrongful conviction.
Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee were originally convicted of the 1993 murder of a Patterson, New Jersey, video store clerk. Prosecutors alleged that the men beat and stabbed 22-year-old Tito Merino to death during a robbery of the video store. Kelley and Lee confessed to the crime but recanted shortly thereafter.
According to a report from NJ Advance Media, a key piece of evidence was a baseball cap found at the scene. Investigators initially believed that it belonged to the killer. DNA evidence tested in 2014 ruled out Kelley and Lee as the hat’s owner, and the DNA instead pointed to a local man who had just finished a prison sentence for knifepoint robbery that took place a few weeks before Merino’s murder.
The Innocence Project and Centurion Ministries raised questions about the case, and a judge ultimately tossed the convictions. But the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office still believed that Kelley and Lee committed the crime and fought to keep them locked up. Prosecutors finally dropped the case after losing an appeal in early 2018.
Grewal said that while he has confidence in Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes, a state-level formal inquiry was necessary. “We’re going to supersede the investigation … to ensure public confidence in light of the criticism that has been leveled and the coverage of the matter,” he said.
In addition to taking over the investigation, Grewal hired former New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice James Zazzali to look into how county prosecutors handled the case.
Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation at The Innocence Project, said Grewal did the right thing. “This move kind of exemplifies exactly the job of the prosecutor: to ensure that justice is done, and not just to maintain convictions,” she said.
Grewal also convened a panel, headed by retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Virginia Long, to determine whether the state should establish a conviction integrity unit. He said the review “was something that we were working on since January , but it’s something that’s been hastened by this matter of Ralph Lee and Eric Kelley.”
It’s about time that there be a national registry of complaints against any law enforcement officer, including prison guards, so that they do not simply move from one job to the next. I remember all too well the story of the excruciating death of Darren Rainey at the hands of this cop! It was flat out murder.
READ: The ‘Office Shuffle’: Ohio Police Recycle Bad Apples Among Rural Departments – How many other states? kra
Excerpts from the Article:
Earlier this week, New Times reported that the Florida corrections officer who locked a mentally ill inmate in a scalding-hot shower until he died is now working as an officer for the Miami Gardens Police Department, where he has amassed a record of serious violations, including repeated investigations into allegations he was sleeping with women while on duty. The story reignited a national backlash over the fact that Officer Roland Clarke never faced any serious consequences for his role in the death of that prisoner, Darren Rainey.
Now Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert says the city is moving to fire Clarke.
“The [city] manager has informed me that the officer in question is in the process required by law and collective bargaining before an officer can be officially terminated,” Gilbert said in a statement sent to New Times. “The behavior of which [Clarke] is accused, and the poor judgement which he has allegedly shown, is not consistent with the high standards to which we hold all city employees.”
In June 2012, Clarke locked Rainey, a 50-year-old schizophrenic inmate who was serving a two-year sentence for cocaine possession, in a shower rigged with temperature controls only outside the cell. Inmates say the shower was used as a form of punishment, and video footage shows Clarke leading Rainey to the shower after the mentally ill man defecated in his cell. By the time Clarke returned two hours later, Rainey was dead and huge portions of his skin were peeling off, visceral photos obtained by the Miami Herald show.
But the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office never brought any criminal charges in connection with Rainey’s death — a decision State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle took five years to announce. In January 2014, Clarke was hired by the Miami Gardens Police Department as a patrol officer.
Clarke’s internal affairs file obtained by New Times shows he has been investigated and reprimanded for numerous failures in his four years as a patrol officer. He is being investigated by IA for pursuing a personal, romantic relationship with a woman while he was on duty. He was previously given a five-day suspension for doing the same thing in 2016. He also lost key evidence sought by homicide detectives in relation to a drowning victim’s death and crashed his patrol car into another driver after running a red light.
Despite all of this, Clarke was a finalist for the Dade County Police Benevolent Association’s Officer of the Year award in 2017.
Clarke also had a proclivity for sending out questionable tweets, including a rant this past April claiming Bill Cosby is innocent and a series in 2013, when he was still a corrections officer, claiming the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants is used to push a gay agenda, which he referred to as “that fag shit.” Clarke has since deactivated his Twitter account.
Both the City of Miami Gardens and the police department faced backlash after news broke of Clarke’s employment with MGPD and his litany of failures.
This was the right result. Thank goodness the jury did the right thing in this instance. We all have seen the video of this shooting, and it was homicide by a police officer, plain and simple. However, as plain and simple as some of these cases may be, we have seen too many officers avoid liability. They must be prosecuted, held accountable, for one very simple reason, so central to our justice system: NOBODY (are you listening, Doofus Donald?!) is above the law.
Excerpts from the Article:
For three years, Chicago was racked by the political, legal and emotional impact of a chilling video that lasted only seconds: A black teenager could be seen collapsing onto a street as a white police officer shot him over and over, 16 times in the end.
On Friday, the officer, Jason Van Dyke, was found guilty of second-degree murder, a decision this city had anxiously awaited for months. Officer Van Dyke, who silently folded his arms behind his back as he was taken into custody, was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm — each count read aloud in the packed courtroom, one for each bullet that struck the teenager, Laquan McDonald.
No Chicago police officer had been convicted of murder in an on-duty shooting in nearly 50 years, and this city had braced for the possibility of an acquittal and a furious response that seemed certain to follow. But when the verdict came, protesters who had gathered outside the courthouse suddenly broke into cheers. Others wept, calling out: “Justice for Laquan! Justice for Laquan!”
For some residents, the trial became a proxy for years of anger over police mistreatment of black Chicagoans and over decades-old doubts about police accountability and transparency. They said they were relieved at the outcome and hopeful that it might force changes in policing and relations with city residents.
Dashboard-camera video from a police car gave a clear view of the shooting, though the city for months resisted releasing the images and Chicagoans only saw it 13 months after it happened, on a judge’s orders. The fallout was significant: The police superintendent was fired, the local prosecutor lost her re-election bid, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced shortly before the trial began that he would not seek re-election next year.
“That video had a profound effect upon this city, not just on policing but on politics, and not just in black and brown neighborhoods — it rippled across every neighborhood,” said Lori Lightfoot, a former president of the Chicago Police Board, an oversight agency, who is now running for mayor. “People saw it and just said, ‘Dear God, what happened?’ and ‘What do we need to do so that that never happens again?’”
Police union leaders and supporters of Officer Van Dyke sharply criticized the outcome, and said it would have an instantly chilling effect on officers who were simply trying to do their jobs and stop crime. “This sham trial and shameful verdict is a message to every law enforcement officer in America that it’s not the perpetrator in front of you that you need to worry about, it’s the political operatives stabbing you in the back,” Chris Southwood, a state leader of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, said.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, suggested that the verdict could affect policing beyond Chicago, particularly when officers confront residents carrying knives and knifelike weapons. “Departments will be taking a second look at how they train officers to deal with individuals with edged weapons,” Mr. Wexler said.
Officer Van Dyke, who is 40 and joined the Chicago police almost two decades ago, confronted Laquan, 17, along a darkened road on the city’s Southwest Side on Oct. 20, 2014. After a truck driver reported that evening that someone was breaking into vehicles in a parking lot, police officers followed Laquan, who was carrying a three-inch pocketknife and refused to stop when they told him to. The pursuit — with Laquan walking down the street and officers on foot and in squad cars behind him — ended when Officer Van Dyke arrived in a car, stepped out and shot him repeatedly, even after his body was crumpled on the street.
The jury deliberated for fewer than eight hours — a shorter period than some people had expected — and some jurors told reporters after the verdict was announced that two of them had at first leaned toward acquittal. The main debate though, the jurors said, was whether to convict Officer Van Dyke on first- or second-degree murder.
Officer Van Dyke had testified on his own behalf during the trial, saying that Laquan had given him a menacing look and angled the knife in his direction before he started shooting — actions that were not visible on the video, which jurors were shown again and again.
“He seemed scared on the stand,” said one man on the jury, who like other jurors did not give his name. “He was fumbling around trying to remember things exactly how they were, and his memories and the facts and other evidence didn’t line up.”
Prosecutors had charged Officer Van Dyke with first-degree murder, but Judge Vincent Gaughan also gave jurors the option of convicting him of second-degree murder, which carries a shorter prison term. Jurors were told to convict on second-degree murder if they decided that the shooting was unjustified but that Officer Van Dyke believed at the time that he was acting reasonably. Officer Van Dyke could face decades in prison when he is sentenced at a future hearing.
Along the streets of downtown Chicago on Friday evening, demonstrations that had been planned for weeks went forward, though some now felt more like celebrations than protests. At dusk, several hundred people marched through busy streets as the police blocked traffic to allow them to pass. Officers accompanied the demonstrators on foot and on bicycles.
The city had been on alert for days as the end of the case grew near, and many officials had drawn up plans for managing unrest in the case of an acquittal. City Hall developed a 150-page action plan, and police officers were ordered to work long shifts and cancel vacations. Schools issued alerts about safety. And some downtown businesses sent workers home early.
By evening, marchers were still moving through the streets, though their numbers were thinning. A Chicago deputy police chief, Kevin Ryan, said that a march involving several hundred protesters downtown had ended without any arrests. He said there had been no problems in other parts of the city.
William Calloway, a prominent Chicago activist who helped force the release of the shooting video three years ago, said he felt justice had been served. Nationally, even in the rare instances when officers are charged in deadly shootings, prosecutors often struggle to get convictions. He said the verdict proved to the city and the country that a white police officer can be held accountable for killing a black person. “It means everything,” Mr. Calloway said. “It means more than what words can explain.”
“To shoot someone down like that with no cause is first-degree murder,” said Rebecca Johnson, who walked near the front of the crowd. “So there’s anger. But there’s relief, too, that we at least got a murder conviction.”
Some people spoke more somberly, noting that no conviction, no march should fail to remember Laquan.
“As long as this trial was going on, our family felt like we had never gotten closure,” said the Rev. Marvin Hunter, Laquan’s great-uncle, who was speaking at the Chicago church where the teenager’s funeral had been held. “And now we can go home tonight and sleep knowing that Laquan is at peace.”
The Whole Story
ICE Utilizes Military-Style Shock Tactics to Round up Immigrants – kra: ICE is Incredibly Cruel Endeavors
We must never forget the calculated, deliberate, incredibly cruel policies of the tRump administration, using ICE as its weapon.
All this bullshit about “gang members” and “the worst of the worst”… Hell, they are incarcerating FAMILIES, whose only transgression was to enter the U S, in horrid private prisons called “detention centers”, and then deporting them.
Make no mistake: the hatred is driven by racism. tRump even had the nerve to say “Why don’t we get more people from Norway”!
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) military-style raid, where 100 armed agents stormed a store in Ohio to round up suspected illegal immigrants, brought the war on immigrants to a new level, immigrant rights activists charge.
While large-scale immigration raids are not uncommon, the sheer size of the force used in the Ohio raid shocked even the most seasoned advocates, the ACLU said.
A man carrying a stack of doughnut boxes called workers at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in Sandusky, Ohio, for a “meeting.” Minutes later, 100 armed ICE agents in military garb stormed the store with dogs while helicopters hovered overhead to ensure nobody escaped. In all, agents herded up 114 workers, zip-tying their hands behind their backs, without ever checking to see who were U.S. citizens.
Then they separated the men and women and took them to detention centers. Numerous minors also were swept up in the raid.
ICE released the minors after 12 hours, but a week later, over 200 children were still without their parents and are being cared for by a local church.
While ICE announced it was releasing some detainees for “humanitarian reasons,” many still remained in custody. Civil and immigration rights lawyers were able to contact some of the men a week later but were prevented from reaching the women. Most detainees were not allowed to talk to their families at all. Deportations were expected to begin within days of the raid.
Treating immigrant workers as enemy insurgents is “terrible, barbaric, and inhumane,” the ACLU says, and is “beyond disturbing.”
The same problem exists concerning prison abuse: when an inmate wins an award (an all too rare occurrence, because they are fighting teams of skilled lawyers representing the abusing prison staff), the state almost always pays the money, so the abusive guard go on their merry way, and continue their abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
Lots of lawsuits get filed against law enforcement, but very few result in a payout. Police have an ever-growing shield called “qualified immunity” and decades of court decisions to hide behind. And even when there is a payout, it is not groundbreaking.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the broad protection qualified immunity offers law enforcement. The Court, once again, held that qualified immunity “gives ample room for mistaken judgments by protecting all but the plainly incompetent [officers] or those who knowingly violate the law.” Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. 1148 (2018). It is a high standard, lawyers admit, and no defined criteria exist.
Police again can thank the courts for decisions that give them a loophole to get out of lawsuits. Say police use excessive force and crush a man’s pelvis during an arrest, as in the case of Brandon Anderson, who had his pelvis crushed by Bristol, Tennessee, police after he gave them a fake name. There’s an easy and virtually foolproof way to ensure he cannot sue—charge him with resisting arrest, even if he didn’t do so. When Anderson sued, police invoked the “Heck Rule,” which bars a criminal defendant from winning a civil lawsuit if it would “necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Because a jury had found Anderson guilty of resisting arrest, he could not sue the police.
Last year, Bristol, Tennessee, paid $62,971 for liability insurance, and its twin city, Bristol, Virginia, paid $42,997. Yet the payouts over the last five years amounted to just $205,000. Half of that amount went to one litigant, who was wrongfully jailed after an identity mix-up, and the next highest payout of $50,000 went to Prison Legal News magazine, which successfully sued the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office for blocking its publication from prisoners. Insurance covered all those expenses, and police never felt a thing.
More importantly, none of the officers who caused the payouts felt a hit to their wallets. They got free lawyers, and insurance paid the bill if they lost. They felt no fallout from their actions.
There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof. – Radley Balko Strikes Again! – kra
There already are excellent, thorough studies which show this, but this is more confirmation. Time and space constraints allow for only a few of the highlights here, but if this is of interest to you open the article and check it out!
Radley Balko does great work.
Excerpts from the Article:
A couple of years ago, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) gave a powerful speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Scott talked about how he had been repeatedly pulled over by police officers who seemed to be suspicious of a black man driving a nice car. He added that a black senior-level staffer had experienced the same thing and had even downgraded his car in the hope of avoiding the problem. Given that Scott otherwise has pretty conservative politics, there was little objection or protest from the right. No one rose up to say that he was lying about getting pulled over.
The thing is, most people of color have a similar story or know someone who does. Yet, there’s a deep skepticism on the right of any assertion that the criminal-justice system is racially biased. In early August, National Review editor and syndicated columnist Rich Lowry wrote a column disputing the notion that our system is racist. Andrew Sullivan wrote something similar in New York magazine. (Interestingly, both Lowry and Sullivan cite criminologist John Pfaff to support their positions. Pfaff has since protested on Twitter that both misinterpreted what he wrote.) And attempting to refute the notion that the system is racist has become a pretty regular beat for conservative crime pundit Heather Mac Donald.
Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism,” often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. When you consider that much of the criminal-justice system was built, honed and firmly established during the Jim Crow era — an era almost everyone, conservatives included, will concede rife with racism — this is pretty intuitive. The modern criminal-justice system helped preserve racial order — it kept black people in their place. For much of the early 20th century, in some parts of the country, that was its primary function. That it might retain some of those proclivities today shouldn’t be all that surprising.
In any case, after more than a decade covering these issues, it’s pretty clear to me that the evidence of racial bias in our criminal-justice system isn’t just convincing — it’s overwhelming. But because there still seems to be some skepticism, I’ve attempted below to catalog the evidence. The list below isn’t remotely comprehensive. And if you know of other studies, please send them to me. I would like to make this post a repository for this issue.
But the problem with trying to dismiss profiling concerns by noting that higher rates at which some minority groups commit certain crimes is that it overlooks the fact that huge percentages of black and Latino people have been pulled over, stopped on the street and generally harassed despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong. Stop and frisk data, for example, consistently show that about 3 percent of these encounters produce any evidence of a crime. So 97 percent-plus of these people are getting punished solely because they belong to a group that statistically commits some crimes at a higher rate. That ought to bother us.
A 2013 Justice Department study found that black and Latino drivers are more likely to be searched once they have been pulled over. About 2 percent of white motorists were searched, vs. 6 percent of black drivers and 7 percent of Latinos.
A 2017 study of 4.5 million traffic stops by the 100 largest police departments in North Carolina found that blacks and Latinos were more likely to be searched than whites (5.4 percent, 4.1 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively), even though searches of white motorists were more likely than the others to turn up contraband (whites: 32 percent, blacks: 29 percent, Latinos: 19 percent).
According to the Justice Department, between 2012 and 2014, black people in Ferguson, Mo., accounted for 85 percent of vehicle stops, 90 percent of citations and 93 percent of arrests, despite comprising 67 percent of the population. Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched after traffic stops, even though they proved to be 26 percent less likely to be in possession of illegal drugs or weapons. Between 2011 and 2013, blacks also received 95 percent of jaywalking tickets and 94 percent of tickets for “failure to comply.” The Justice Department also found that the racial discrepancy for speeding tickets increased dramatically when researchers looked at tickets based on only an officer’s word vs. tickets based on objective evidence, such as vs. radar. Black people facing similar low-level charges as white people were 68 percent less likely to see those charges dismissed in court. More than 90 percent of the arrest warrants stemming from failure to pay/failure to appear were issued for black people.
A 2013 study by the ACLU found that black people were 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. And 88 percent of marijuana arrests are for possession. (The disparity is actually lowest in the West and South, and highest in the Northeast and Midwest.) The study found that the racial disparities were also getting larger, not smaller.
In contrast to the assertion that blacks are more likely to be arrested because they’re more likely to use drugs in public, a 2002 study of narcotics search warrants in the San Diego area — that is, warrants to search for drugs in private homes — found that black and Hispanic residents were “significantly over-represented as targets of narcotics search warrants,” even after adjusting for usage rates. The study also found that “searches of White suspects were more successful in recovering the targeted drug than were searches of either Black or Hispanic suspects.”
According to figures from the National Registry of Exonerations (NER) black people are about five times more likely to go to prison for drug possession than white people. According to exoneration data, black people are also 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug crimes.
When Harris County, Tex., saw a flaw in how drug testing was conducted at its crime lab, officials went back and exonerated dozens of people who had been wrongly convicted for possession — most pleaded guilty, despite their innocence. This is because prosecutors often promise harsher sentences or more charges for defendants who take a case to trial. Black people comprise 20 percent of the Harris County population but made up 62 percent of the wrongful drug convictions.
Not included in these wrongful conviction figures are cases in which police and narcotics task forces conducted mass arrests of entire black or Latino neighborhoods or towns. Hundreds of people were persuaded to plead guilty to drug charges. By the NER’s estimate, there have been more than 1,800 such “group exonerations” in 15 cities since 1989. Almost all those exonerated were black or Latino.
An analysis of drug war data by the Vera Institute of Justice published this year found that “the risk of incarceration in the federal system for someone who uses drugs monthly and is black is more than seven times that of his or her white counterpart.”
A 2017 report of civil asset forfeiture seizures in Chicago showed that the vast majority of such actions were in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. The average value of the property seized was $4,553; the median value was $1,049.
There are no comprehensive national data on the rate at which prosecutors strike black jurors, but there have been quite a few regional studies.
A study of criminal cases from 1983 and 1993 found that prosecutors in Philadelphia removed 52 percent of potential black jurors vs. only 23 percent of nonblack jurors.
While white people make up less than half of the country’s murder victims, a 2003 study by Amnesty International found that about 80 percent of the people on death row in the United States killed a white person.
A 2012 study of Harris County, Tex., cases found that people who killed white victims were 2.5 times more likely to be sentenced to the death penalty than other killers.
In Delaware, according to a 2012 study, “black defendants who kill white victims are seven times as likely to receive the death penalty as are black defendants who kill black victims. … Moreover, black defendants who kill white victims are more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death as are white defendants who kill white victims.”
A 2000 study of federal cases found that federal prosecutors were about 50 percent more likely to offer a plea bargain to white murder suspects than black suspects that allowed them to avoid the death penalty.
Depending on which study you look at, somewhere between 80 and 95 percent of criminal cases are resolved with a plea bargain before ever getting to trial. While most legal observers agree that plea bargaining is widely abused and does little to serve the interests of justice, most also believe believe that if every defendant were to insist on a trial, the system would come grinding to a halt. The bias here comes in when we look at who gets plea bargains, what kinds of deals they’re offered and how many, though innocent, feel pressured to accept.
A 2015 study by the Women Donors Network found that in three-fifths of the states where prosecutors are elected, there isn’t a single black prosecutor. Overall, the study found that in the United States, 95 percent of elected prosecutors are white, and nearly 80 percent are white men. In nine death penalty states (Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming), all of the elected district attorneys were white in 2015.
A 2017 study of about 48,000 criminal cases in Wisconsin showed that white defendants were 25 percent more likely than black defendants to have their most serious charge dismissed in a plea bargain. Among defendants facing misdemeanor charges that could carry a sentence of incarceration, whites were 75 percent more likely to have those charges dropped, dismissed or reduced to a charge that did not include such a punishment.
Data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission released in 2016 found that black people in the state are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white people. Hispanic people were about five times more likely.
In 2016, the New York Times reported a working paper (i.e., not peer-reviewed) by Harvard’s Roland G. Fryer Jr. found that though there was evidence of racial bias in how and when police generally use force, there was no evidence of bias when it came to police shootings. Fryer later criticized the way his study had been reported, and critics (including me) pointed out several limitations to his study.