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News items related to racial disparities

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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…
Media Hype and Distortion
A recent column by Steven Levitt in the New York Times on the subject of homicide is unusual. In this column he is referencing a recent study by James Fox of Northwestern University. Fox is one of the most often quoted criminologists in the country when it comes to homicide (here's the link to his report ). The media are typically selective in their treatment of the subject of crime.  Typical headlines dealing with Fox's report include this one from the New York Times: "Homicides by Black…
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…
Drug War Update, the year 2008 in review
As far as the war on drugs is concerned, as far as 2008 is concerned we simply conclude that "the beat goes on."  More than $50.8 billion was spent on this never-ending campaign, with the states spending about 60% of the money.  Almost 1.9 million were arrested for drug offenses during the year, 831,000 for marijuana alone, mostly possession.  Almost 11,000 were incarcerated as a result of their arrest and conviction .   As everyone knows, race and gender are of critical importance in…
Do Black Teens Need More Policing?
Why do the news media adore James Alan Fox? He's never been right. The Northeastern University criminologist perpetuates fossilized 19th century demographic dogmas that measure crime as a function of dark-skinned youth in the population, inflammatory racialized quips branding nonwhite teenagers as "sociopaths" and "superpredators," and 25 years of horrendously wrong crime predictions. Now Fox and colleagues are back with another media-splashed study (conveniently…
The Trouble with Disproportionate Minority Confinement
Recent reports by the W. Haywood Burns Institute and NAACP deploring disproportionate minority confinement in juvenile facilities raise an important ongoing issue. It is true, as the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice's own investigations agree, that black and brown youth receive increasingly harsh treatment as they move from arrest through sentencing stages that the juvenile justice system must address. But there's another troubling issue. A key CJCJ mission has been to reduce the use of…
Justice Policy Journal - Volume 1, Number 2 - Spring 2003
(ISSN 1530-3012) From the editor Justice Policy Journal Volume 1, Number 2: Spring 2003 From the editor By Daniel Macallair, MPA Editorial Statement Manuscripts submitted to JPJ cannot have been published elsewhere, including the internet. They cannot be under consideration by another journal or publication outlet. Upon publication, authors must sign a copyright agreement with the Justice Policy Journal . Justice Policy Journal Volume 1, Number 2: Spring 2003 By Edward…
San Francisco Challenges: Statistics don't support official explanations for high black arrest rate

San Francisco Challenges: Statistics don't support official explanations for high black arrest rate San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 2007

Racial Disparities and the Drug War
Racial Disparities and the Drug War
Why are we so Punitive? Some Observations on Recent Incarceration Trends
Why are we so Punitive? Some Observations on Recent Incarceration Trends
Off Balance: Youth, Race & Crime in the News

The overwhelming evidence is that in the aggregate, crime coverage is not reflecting an accurate picture ofwho the victims and perpetrators are.  

Quiet Crisis: Youth Violence, Race and Justice

This report is a preliminary portrait of some key trends in youth violence and the juvenile justice system in Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties since the mid-1980s.

Three Strikes: The New Apartheid

As politically expedient "get tough" stances have monopolized the debate on crime, political one-upsmanship has produced the most punitive, expensive and racially disparate criminal justice policies in the state's history.

Young African American and the Criminal Justice System in California: Five Years Later

Follow up on the 1990 study shows that the general plight of people of color, particualrly young black males, has deteriorated.

Race and America's Criminal Justice System

A 1995 discussion of race and the criminal justice system in America.

Race & Incarceration In San Francisco: Two Years Later

A follow up on a 1992 study of San Francisco's racially disparate incarceration trends finds a city steeped in rhetoric rather than reason.

Three Strikes: The Unintended Victims

A case history project of people receiving three strikes sentences.

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