Chalottesville: When Police Fail

The police are supposed to keep order and let people exercise their Constitutional rights. When they don't, people get hurt and even die. ast summer in Charlottesville, in a clash between neo-Nazis and confederate monument supporters on one side, and “antifa,” or anti-facist, and Black Lives Matter supporters on the other, numerous people were hurt, and one person, Heather Heyer, was killed when a white nationalist supporter drove his car into a crowd. Now an independent report has come out, … [Read more...]

How Do You Clear a Pot Conviction From Your Record?

It depends on where you live. (Californians, you’re in luck.) ddy, a burly 65-year-old professional musician, walked into a free legal clinic in Los Angeles County one July morning hoping to clear his record. More than three decades ago, he served two years probation for attempting to sell a few gram bags of marijuana, a felony that put the immigrant, a legal U.S. resident with a green card, at greater risk of deportation. Thanks to Proposition 64, the California ballot initiative that … [Read more...]

America Only Country Still Sentencing Kids to Die in Prison

For too long we have depicted our youth, especially our black youth, as lost causes. But they can change. s a black man in America, I’m keenly aware that people who look a lot like me are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. The way adults of color are treated in our justice system is already upsetting, but the way our justice system treats children, especially black children, is simply deplorable. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than on the issue of juvenile sentencing. Black … [Read more...]

Walter Scott Shooting: Michael Slager, Ex-Officer, Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

More than two years ago, the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black motorist, by a white South Carolina police officer set off a wave of national protests over racially biased policing and the use of lethal force. On Thursday, Michael Slager, who was fired as a North Charleston patrolman days after the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty in Scott's death. U.S. District Judge David Norton, in issuing the sentence, said Slager shot Scott with … [Read more...]

Tracking the Impact of the Prison System on the Economy

One of the most popular parts of our 2003 book The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry concerns the economic power of the criminal justice system. I updated three of the graphs and concepts from that book. The justice system may have slowed its growth in recent years, but it still has a large hold on the economy. In 2012 — the most recent data available — the more than 2.4 million people who work for the justice system (in police, corrections and judicial services) at … [Read more...]

How Washington Winks at Violent Discipline of Special Needs Kids

Kaden Perrizo was 11 years old when he entered an “orthopedic impaired” class at Taylor Elementary in Santa Clara, California. Kaden suffered an immune system disease as a toddler that left him unable to walk without leg braces or to speak more than a few words; his parents say he functions cognitively like a 4-year-old. His teacher, according to allegations set forth in a lawsuit brought by Kaden's parents on his behalf, tied him to a chair. He was also confined in a 3-by-4-foot cell made of … [Read more...]

Don’t Let Judges Hijack California Bail Reform

Californians who want to bring fairness to the criminal system recognize that there is no justice without meaningful bail reform. Wealthy people buy their liberty and fight their cases from home without regard for public safety. Poor people – the vast majority of criminal defendants – languish in jail even for minor charges. They lose jobs and their families go into debt paying non-refundable bail bonds. Those who can’t pay bail face a heartbreaking choice – assert their innocence and stay in … [Read more...]

Reaching Inside the Jails to Break the Cycle of Homeless Arrests

A door opened, and three men walked out of captivity into a sun-drenched waiting area. It’s a scene repeated hundreds of times a day at Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail. But instead of being greeted by family members and friends, these men were met by Victor Key, a case manager for Project 180, a downtown agency that is on the front line of a homeless strategy called jail in-reach. The three men had been arrested for felonies. A psychiatrist had diagnosed them with mental illnesses … [Read more...]

How SWAT Team Expos Are Militarizing Police Departments Across the Country

Last week, the Florida SWAT Association hosted the “35th Annual SWAT Round-Up International Competition and Vendor Trade Show” in Orlando. The event brought together law enforcement and military personnel from around the world to compete against each other, train in new tactics and technologies, and buy new weapons from arms dealers. At a time when Florida residents are acutely aware of the need for climate disaster and emergency preparedness, this use of resources to further escalate policing … [Read more...]

This Is What Patriarchy Looks Like

Patriarchy is neither Democrat nor Republican. But only one party bakes it into its brand. There’s an alleged ass-grabber in the Senate and a self-described pussy-grabber in the White House. In Alabama, an alleged ephebophile who stands accused of assaulting young women—including one as young as 14—is running for a seat in the Senate. He enjoys support of the pussy-grabber in the Oval Office. The “dean of the House” paid $27,000 in taxpayer dollars to a woman who accused him of sexually … [Read more...]