Making Affirmative Action White Again

Jeff Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee 20 years ago that affirmative action irritated people (he meant white people) because it could cause them to lose opportunities “simply because of their race.” This sense of grievance lies behind the Justice Department’s recent memo seeking lawyers to investigate “race-based discrimination” in college admissions. It also implies that all that stands between hard-working whites and success are undeserving minorities who are doled out benefits, … [Read more...]

What Ever Happened to Mass Incarceration Reform?

Though it feels like eons ago, the summer of 2016 promised to be one of bipartisan efforts to tackle the issue of mass incarceration.  Unfortunately, the summer for criminal justice reform dissolved without fanfare into the craziness of the 2016 election.  And, with the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who ushered in a 1980’s throw-back Department of Justice directive on low-level drug offenses, it remains unclear whether there might be a return to a bipartisan approach to … [Read more...]

Innocence Is Irrelevant

This is the age of the plea bargain—and millions of Americans are suffering the consequences. t had been a long night for Shanta Sweatt. After working a 16-hour shift cleaning the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, in Nashville, and then catching the 11:15 bus to her apartment, she just wanted to take a shower and go to sleep. Instead, she wound up having a fight with the man she refers to as her “so-called boyfriend.” He was a high-school classmate who had recently ended up on the street, so … [Read more...]

ICE’s Latest Raids Swept Up More Than 500 Whose Only Crime Was Being in the United States

So much for prioritizing criminals for deportation. mmigration and Custom Enforcement announced on Tuesday that it had arrested 650 people, including 38 minors, in its latest round of raids, which took place July 23 through July 26. That’s roughly as many people as were arrested during similar large-scale sweeps earlier this year, after President Donald Trump first announced his administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. But while only 170 of the people arrested in January and February … [Read more...]

Why Segregated Neighborhoods Persist

The long historical reach of racial housing policy. The major unfinished business of the civil rights movement, writes Richard Rothstein in his powerful new book, The Color of Law, is housing. Over the past fifty years, we’ve made considerable progress reducing discrimination in restaurants, hotels, transportation, voting, and employment, he writes, but residential segregation remains relatively high. A half century after the Kerner Commission found that “our nation is moving toward two … [Read more...]

The War on Drugs Never Ended

It will be up to thousands of state and local prosecutors to kill it once and for all. n a memo circulated in May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to seek the maximum penalty possible in every case. He didn’t single out any particular crimes for harsh sentencing, indicating that all offenses—including simple drug possession—should be punished in the harshest allowable manner. Sessions later defended the decision in a Washington Post opinion piece, arguing that a … [Read more...]

Let Black Kids Just Be Kids

George Zimmerman admitted at his 2012 bail hearing that he misjudged Trayvon Martin’s age when he killed him. “I thought he was a little bit younger than I am,” he said, meaning just under 28. But Trayvon was only 17. What may be most tragic about Mr. Zimmerman’s miscalculation is that it’s widespread. To many people, black boys seem older than they are: In one study, people overestimated their ages by 4.5 years. This contributes to a false perception that black boys are less childlike than … [Read more...]

Can Sex Sell Peace?

An adman thinks it can help. Tell young people they might die from gun violence, and the message gets lost in the hopelessness of impoverished neighborhoods, where fatalism runs deep. Tell young men that a bullet could lead to lifelong paralysis and what the pill-makers call “erectile dysfunction,” and you are more likely to have their attention. That is the working hypothesis James Evans reached after conducting focus groups, online surveys and one-on-one interviews in his murder-plagued … [Read more...]

Why Civil Asset Forfeiture Simply Won’t Die

That Attorney General Jeff Sessions would resurrect a controversial federal program for civil asset forfeiture isn’t surprising. He has long been one of the rare advocates for the policy, a vestige of the war on drugs restricted by the Obama administration that allowed local and state law enforcement officials to use federal law to seize (and keep) property suspected of crime. But his announcement last week that the Justice Department was expanding the practice nonetheless perfectly … [Read more...]

Disillusioned ICE Agent Speaks Out

In March, two months after President Trump took office, I received a text message from a veteran agent at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I had been trying to find field agents willing to describe what life was like at the agency in the Trump era. This agent agreed to talk. Over the past four months, we have texted often and spoken on the phone several times. Some of our discussions have been about the specifics of new federal policies aimed at dramatically increasing the number of … [Read more...]