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News items related to racial disparities

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The "Zimmerman Dilemma": How afraid should we be of young black men?
While commentators led by no less than President Obama  have blamed violent crime on "the entire generation of young men in our society" and have warned us to fear young black men in particular, those Americans more thoughtful than politicians running for office, exploitative interest groups, sensationalist reporters, and racist fear-mongers know that "entire generations" don't commit violence; individuals do. If the individual approaching you is a black teenaged male, how much more likely are…
Who has the right to "stand your ground"?
Florida teenager Trayvon Martin had been dead for a month and the national furor over his shooting by vigilante George Zimmerman was into its third week before anyone, to my knowledge, asked that fundamental question.  Law enforcement officials, experts, and commentators across the spectrum had assumed that the only issue was whether Zimmerman was entitled to use Florida's "stand your ground" law to justify shooting Martin. MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris Perry finally declared what the…
Commentary: Americans Are Tired of Innocent Black Men Being Targeted by Bigots
Commentary: Americans Are Tired of Innocent Black Men Being Targeted by Bigots BET National News, March 30, 2012
The violent black youth myth

The violent black youth myth Politico, March 27, 2012

The Myth of the Young, Black Male: A More Subtle Racism
The Myth of the Young, Black Male: A More Subtle Racism Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, March 30, 2012
SJSU justice studies department celebrates new human rights minor at inaugural event
SJSU justice studies department celebrates new human rights minor at inaugural event Spartan Daily, March 21, 2012
Selena Teji presents at SJSU War on Drugs panel Mar. 21, 2012
San Jose State University (SJSU)'s Justice Studies Department is kicking off their new Human Rights minor with a series of Human Rights panel discussions.  The first is Wednesday, March 21st , 2012 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Student Union, Barrett Ballroom.  Entitled Hip Hop, Social Justice and the War on Drugs , this event will be an eclectic mixture of music, culture, and policy featuring the following panelists: ~ Selena Teji, J.D., Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) ~…
America's Longest Ongoing War: The 'Race' War on Drugs
America's Longest Ongoing War: The 'Race' War on Drugs The American Muslim, January 9, 2012
Report highlights racial disparities in CA's juvenile justice system
A recent report by the W. Haywood Burns Institute indicates that while California's current corrections policies appear to be race-neutral, data shows that many young people of color are being incarcerated at higher rates than white youth for non-criminal acts rather than being treated for mental health and behavioral health needs.     The report, titled "Non-Judicial Drivers into the Juvenile Justice System for Youth of Color" , highlights multiple studies that point to the same conclusion: …
Using a Medical Care Analogy to Reduce Crime
You never know where you will get some ideas that will help develop public policies concerning crime and delinquency.  Yesterday I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR)'s "Fresh Air " program and the subject was providing quality health care.  The guest was talking about focusing on patients with the highest medical costs, which he called "The Hot Spotters." He was talking about a unique doctor in Camden, Ohio who began to do some research on health care costs in his city.   …
The Myth of Immigrant-Fueled Crime Wave in Arizona
The Myth of Immigrant-Fueled Crime Wave in Arizona Politics Blog, September 9, 2010
Racial Bias and Certification
A story from the Chicago Reporter is merely the most recent of a long line of studies going back 30 years documenting the racial bias of the certification process.   Certifying juveniles as adults was part of an overall conservative "law and order" crackdown on juvenile crime starting during the Reagan administration in the 1980s.   Research began almost immediately during that time documenting the disproportionate number of African-American youth who were certified.   As the studies poured…
Crime Drops, Immigration Soars in Arizona
Crime Drops, Immigration Soars in Arizona The Crime Report, August 23, 2010.
Scapegoating Immigrants: Arizona's Real Crisis Is Rooted in State Residents' Soaring Drug Abuse
Senior Research Fellow Mike Males and Executive Director Daniel Macallair investigate Arizona's recent anti-immigrant law.  "
Marijuana: California's Black "Criminal (In)justice System"
Two provocative papers issued by CJCJ this month find that despite racial progress in other areas, American authorities' historical campaign to associate taboo drugs, particularly marijuana, with "Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos," and other minorities (U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry Anslinger, 1936) remains powerful in 2010. CJCJ's first paper analyzes new criminal justice, health, and drug monitoring agency statistics to document that California operates a separate, harshly unequal…
Targeting Blacks for Marijuana - Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004-08
Targeting Blacks for Marijuana - Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004-08 The Drug Policy Alliance, June 30, 2010
An Epidemic of Abuse Inside Juvenile Institutions
At the close of my last blog ("More Abuse in Youth Prisons") I suggested doing a simple search on the Internet and type in words like "abuse in juvenile institutions" and select some states at random.  I said at the time that I would continue my search.   And so I did.   And what I found was way beyond what I expected.   I don't often like to use the word "epidemic" since it is so value-loaded and defies precise definition.   One definition from Webster's includes "widespread growth" and so I…
Life for kids: a follow-up
My previous blog concerned the current Supreme Court case about juveniles serving life without the possibility of parole.  I neglected to mention that there are two cases being considered: Sullivan v. Florida and Graham v. Florida.   When I wrote this blog I was not aware of a two-part report in AlterNet by Liliana Segura. I also was not aware of a report by Human Rights Watch and how both of these reports highlighted both the racial disparities of these sentences and the details of some…
Kids Die all but invisibly
I thought that after studying and writing about juvenile justice for more than 30 years nothing would shock me, that I had seen and heard everything.  I was wrong.  The title of a recent story in the Los Angeles Times gives a hint to what it is about: "Flawed county system lets kids die invisibly."  The story begins with the death of 17-year-old Miguel Padilla, who had run away from a "licensed group home" (Leroy Haynes Center in La Verne, CA) in April 2008.  He didn't get very far. "Unknown…
The racism of marijuana prohibition
The racism of marijuana prohibition Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2009
Race and the Drug War, Part II
After more than 20 years, even with the heightened awareness of the impact of the drug war on blacks and other minorities, Congress still does nothing.  The drug war's impact has reached directly into minority neighborhoods with devastating results.  A recent book by Todd Clear documents the impact of mass incarceration (brought about mostly by the drug war) on these communities.  He shows that "get tough on crime" polices in recent years have actually contributed to higher crime rates in these…
Race and the Drug War, Part I
The "war on drugs" must be seen as a concerted effort (whether this has been intended is irrelevant) to keep the black population in a secondary status.  Such an effort can be traced to the days of slavery and even for about 100 years after slavery officially ended, at least in the South (see Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name ; Anchor Books, 2009). Consider the following data: Overall incarceration rates (2006): White male = 736; Black male = 4,789; lifetime chances of going to prison…
The Danger of Legalizing Marijuana without Comprehensive Reform
As strange as its sounds, American history repeatedly shows that legalization of certain drugs leads to expanded, not reduced, "wars on drugs": In the late 1800s, the crisis of middle-Americans' addiction to new, legal patent medicines saturated with opiates, cocaine, and alcohol was buried under vicious official crusades vilifying the Chinese and opium and black men and cocaine. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the explosion in drunk driving and abuse of newly legalized alcohol by…
San Francisco perpetuates "dark ages" crime prejudices
Two statements-and some huge omissions-sum up the obsolete thinking that plagues development of a 21st century crime policy for San Francisco, an issue receiving more attention after new police reports show homicides have increased. "Nothing that I have tried to resolve has been more frustrating and vexing than solving the issue of why a 14-year-old would take the life of a 15-year-old with a weapon of war," Mayor Gavin Newsom told the Chronicle on January 1. And unnamed community…
The Trouble in Antioch
"As more and more black renters began moving into this mostly white San Francisco Bay Area suburb a few years ago, neighbors started complaining about loud parties, mean pit bulls, blaring car radios, prostitution, drug dealing and muggings of schoolchildren," the Associated Press reported on December 30. As Antioch's black population escalated sharply over the last decade to 16% of the city's 101,000 residents in 2007, "longtime homeowners complained that the new arrivals brought crime and…

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