When Race Tips the Scales in Plea Bargaining

New research finds that prosecutors give white defendants better deals than black defendants. TWO OFFICERS ESCORTED a young black man into the courtroom, bringing him in handcuffs from a holding cell in the back called “the pen.” They placed him beside his public defender and stepped away. So far, things were routine. The prosecutor had offered the man a plea deal of probation and he indicated that he would accept. In a scene that plays out dozens of times a day in the Bronx criminal court, … [Read more...]

Fighting Racism Is Not Just a War of Words

There is worth in the expression of shared principles, as well as in the support that stems from collaboration. But beyond the immediate affirmation of restating our moral convictions, I confess my nagging worry that ceaseless statement-writing as an act of protest is sucking us dry — of time, rest, energy, creativity and our place in the public square. Protest aims to voice dissent and sway public opinion toward the ultimate end of shaping social change, or in our moment, halting social … [Read more...]

Stop the $3.5 Billion LA Jail Plan!

[Read more...]

We Are Witnesses: Others: A Portrait of Crime and Punishment in America Today

The impact of America’s punishment policies is often measured in numbers: there are now 2.2 million people in our jails and prisons; one in a hundred and fifteen adults is confined behind bars; our inmate population is four times larger than it was in 1980. “We Are Witnesses,” a collection of short videos, offers a very different sort of calculation: the human cost of locking up so many citizens for so many years. The project comprises nineteen videos, each between two and six minutes long. … [Read more...]

What America Taught the Nazis

In the 1930s, the Germans were fascinated by the global leader in codified racism—the United States. here was no more extravagant site for Third Reich political theater than the spectacular parade grounds, two large stadiums, and congress hall in Nuremberg, a project masterminded by Albert Speer. From 1933 to 1938, he choreographed massive rallies associated with the annual conference of the Nazi Party, assemblies made famous by Leni Riefenstahl’s stunning documentaries of 1933 and 1935, The … [Read more...]

Drug Dealers in Lab Coats

For decades, America has waged an ineffective war on drug pushers and drug lords, from Bronx street corners to Medellin, Colombia, regarding them as among the most contemptible specimens of humanity. One reason our efforts have failed is we ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies. Our policy was: You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug who deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a … [Read more...]

Preventing the Next American Gun Tragedy: One Mother’s Story

The attack in Las Vegas earlier this month was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with 58 dead and hundreds of people injured. While the families of the victims and Americans around the country grieve the catastrophic loss of life, legislators and lobbyists are already strategizing how to use this shooting as a catalyst for pushing their gun policies. Whether it is a pro-gun stance to endow schools and businesses with weapons of their own, an anti-gun position to reduce gun … [Read more...]

Ex-Inmates Behind Push for California Employers to ‘Ban the Box’

  Many of the 7 million Californians with a prior arrest or conviction likely can relate to Sandra Johnson’s job hunting experience nearly a decade ago. On every employment application, she checked a box that inquired about criminal history. “It was terribly hard,” the 59-year-old mother and grandmother said of the months she spent seeking work after completing a San Francisco drug treatment program. “I would go and apply and I would never hear back because that box was always … [Read more...]

Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, people want to know about women’s experience with incarceration. How many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the United States? And why are they there? While these are important questions, finding those answers requires not only disentangling the country’s decentralized and overlapping criminal justice systems, but also unearthing the frustratingly hard to find and often altogether missing … [Read more...]

Black Identity Extremists and the Dark Side of the FBI

Leaked documents remind us of the agency’s history of dirty tricks. ecent political developments have helped put the FBI in a favorable light. The agency and its leadership have been praised for its performance throughout the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Former director James Comey affirmed the agency’s fundamental goodness in a letter to his colleagues after he was relieved of his post President Trump. “I have said to you before that, in … [Read more...]