The Cost of Being ‘Savage’ in a Supposedly Civilized World

This country is rich with awful things to say about everybody. There’s a slur for you and a slur for me — more than one. And because we’re terrified of dealing with them head on, we’ve made them just as easy to warp and defang. Ask anybody who has played HQ Trivia. HQ is the 12-question smartphone fad that has turned Americans into daily-quiz junkies. And in any given session, a stumper might come along that wipes out a huge number of players. (On Nov. 14, nearly half the players misidentified … [Read more...]

He Stole $5…His Bail Was Set at $350,000

The case of a San Francisco senior citizen accused of stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne from his neighbor reveals the obvious injustice of California's bail system, and may finally lead to reform. Kenneth Humphrey has languished in San Francisco County Jail for more than 250 days on $350,000 bail. His charges include robbery and residential burglary for allegedly stepping into his neighbor's room in their senior housing complex. But in late January, a panel of state appeal court judges … [Read more...]

How Cash Bail Hits Poor People of Color Hardest

A new UCLA report finds that thousands in LA jails are “too poor to pay the price for freedom.”  new report shows how the use of money bail in the city of Los Angeles has spawned a massive industry built on the backs of poor communities of color. The report, released Monday by UCLA’s Million Dollar Hoods Research team, which conducts data mapping projects about the Los Angeles jail system, found that from 2012 to 2016, more than $19 billion in cash bail was levied against people arrested by … [Read more...]

Huge Increase in Arrests of Homeless in L.A. — But Mostly for Minor Offenses

Los Angeles police found Reed Segovia slumped in a folding chair near the Venice boardwalk early one spring morning in 2016 and shook him awake. The officers handed the homeless street artist a ticket for sleeping on the sidewalk. Three months later, LAPD officers were citing Segovia again when they discovered an unpaid ticket for sleeping on the beach. This time, they handcuffed him, loaded him into a squad car and took him to jail. L.A. officials have denounced "criminalizing" … [Read more...]

It’s Not Enough to Get Paid for Not Working: These L.A. Police and Firefighters Figured Out How to Double It

Take a program that lets a public employee earn both a pension and a salary at the same time. Add an extremely generous disability leave and workers' compensation program that allows public employees to be paid while not working for months or even years on end. What do you get? Massive corruption, obviously. A new report from the Los Angeles Times attempts to quantify the costs and consequences of a program allowing L.A. police and firefighters to collect both salaries and pension returns in … [Read more...]

Law Enforcement Unions Have Too Much Power

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, the largest union representing NYPD officers, took a bold step toward reform this week: It cut the number of “courtesy cards” members can give to their friends and family from 30 to 20. If you’ve never heard of these cards, you’re not alone. They allow their bearers to skate on speeding tickets or other low-level offenses, and they’re something of a closely guarded trade secret among officers, perhaps because of the petty corruption … [Read more...]

Charlie Beck’s Replacement Should Let Cops Be Cops

As the search begins for his replacement, some in Los Angeles are celebrating Charlie Beck's departure. The call for the Los Angeles police chief's removal had become a weekly refrain at the police commission meetings held every Tuesday morning. Despite his reformist reputation— he sought to protect immigrant communities and oversaw the completion of a consent decree imposed after the 2002 Rampart corruption scandal — the list of criticisms was long, particularly from people of color. So when … [Read more...]

6 Elements of Police Spin: An Object Lesson in Copspeak

The linguistic gymnastics needed to report on police violence without calling up images of police violence is a thing of semantic wonder. Officers don’t shoot, they are merely “involved” in shootings; victims are not victims, but “suspects” “fleeing”; human beings become premortem cadavers as bullets “enter the torso” rather than the chest of a person; guns and bullets act on their own as they “discharge” or “enter the right femur,” rather than being fired by autonomous individuals with agency … [Read more...]

Bad Boys: How “Cops” Became the Most Polarizing Reality TV Show in America

Morgan Langley leans toward a large computer screen. He isn’t sure if the video clip is still there, posted to a random YouTube channel named after a ’90s punk-ska act, but after a few moments, he finds it. Out of a black screen flashes a white Ford Mustang with blacked-out windows and chrome rims. Langley, who is an executive producer of one of America’s longest-running reality shows, “Cops,” narrates. “This kid here is actually selling a thousand pills of ecstasy to an undercover cop,” he says … [Read more...]

Justice Not Jails Seeks a Part-Time Organizer

Organizer - Justice Not Jails Los Angeles Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Los Angeles, CA 90041 $1,000 - $2,000 a month - Part-time, Contract Justice Not Jails, a faith-based network focused on mass incarceration and abusive policing, seeks a part-time organizer to help its multi-faith leadership team move the work forward. The organizer will interact with congregational clergy, leaders of allied organizations, policymakers, and others. An engaging confident manner, along with a … [Read more...]