criminal justice system

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Stanley Wrice, 59, gave a thumbs up as he was released from the Pontiac Correctional Center after Cook County Judge Richard Walsh overturned his conviction this week saying officers lied about how they treated him.

Not alone: Wrice was sentenced to 100 yeas in prison in 1982 after he says two former officers beat him with a flashlight and a 20-inch piece of rubber the same weapons, lawyers say the two implicated cops used on others.

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The U.S. Justice Department says it’s unconstitutional to jail people who can’t afford bail.

On Thursday, the United States Department of Justice filed a document to a federal appeals court in Georgia, arguing that jailing someone who can’t afford to make bail is unconstitutional.

According to NBC News, the court document said the long-time practice flies in the face of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The department filed the document in response to the case of Georgia man Maurice Walker who spent six nights in jail over a misdemeanor charge.

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I Got Myself Arrested So I Could Look Inside the Justice System

Ten years ago, when I started my career as an assistant district attorney in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, I viewed the American criminal justice system as a vital institution that protected society from dangerous people. I once prosecuted a man for brutally attacking his wife with a flashlight, and another for sexually assaulting a waitress at a nightclub. I believed in the system for good reason.

But in between the important cases, I found myself spending most of my time prosecuting people of color for things we white kids did with impunity growing up in the suburbs. As our office handed down arrest records and probation terms for riding dirt bikes in the street, cutting through a neighbor’s yard, hosting loud parties, fighting, or smoking weed – shenanigans that had rarely earned my own classmates anything more than raised eyebrows and scoldings – I often wondered if there was a side of the justice system that we never saw in the suburbs. Last year, I got myself arrested in New York City and found out.

Read more. [Image: Bobby Constantino]

“White Americans feel like they are being singled out because of the color of their skin rather than any actions they’ve taken. That’s how black people feel. Every. Single. Day.”

I hope the chanting of “Ferguson! Ferguson!” and the symbolic upraised arms of surrender will become a new cry of outrage over social injustice that will embed itself in our popular culture as deeply as Attica did.

As always, there will be blacklash.

Many white people think that these cries of outrage over racism by African Americans are directed at them, which makes them frightened, defensive, and equally outraged. They feel like they are being blamed for a problem that’s been going on for many decades, even centuries. They feel they are being singled out because of the color of their skin rather than any actions they’ve taken. They are angry at the injustice. And rightfully so. Why should they be attacked and blamed for something they didn’t do?

Which is exactly how black people feel.

The difference is that when the media frenzy dies down, and columnists, pundits, and newscasters take a break from examining the causes of social evils, white people get to go back to their lives in relative freedom and security. But blacks still have to worry about being harassed or shot by police. About having their right to vote curtailed by hidden poll taxes. Of facing a biased judicial system.

Every. Single. Day. …

The Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson is troubling, not just for the sake of Michael Brown, but for our faith in legal institutions. Ben Casselman’s recent article in FiveThirtyEight.com concluded that it was extremely rare for a grand jury not to indict. He cited statistics that showed U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, with grand juries refusing to indict in only 11 of those cases. Given those odds, why wasn’t Officer Wilson indicted? Not because he’s white, but because he’s a cop. Casselman reviewed various studies involving officer-related shootings and concluded that grand juries rarely indict police officers in on-duty killings. …

The people of Ferguson, and across the country, are not protesting against white people or police officers, they are protesting against the kind of racism that is so embedded in various social institutions that it’s invisible to all except those it affects. They are protesting a blind faith in any institution when the facts don’t warrant that faith.

Perhaps this quote has some resonance today:

"Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.…[T]his much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul. For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter. This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.”

Those words are from a speech by Robert F. Kennedy—in 1968, the year he was assassinated. He wanted things to change, and he recognized that meaningful social and political change always originates among the people, not the politicians; it originates among individuals, not institutions. When enough people are frustrated about an injustice, they will raise their voices until they are heard in the courthouse, the statehouse, and the White House.“

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to Our World

872,924 Black men enslaved in U.S. in 1850
1,680,000 Black men currently in correctional control (2015).


Follow this link to find a short video that offers an account of the racist criminal justice system and the wildly disproportionate incarceration rates


“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”

~ John Legend

Black Man Spent 24 Years Behind the Bars For the Rape He Never Committed. Still in Prison

Darnell Phillips is not a lucky guy. He has already spent more than a half of his life in prison for the crime he never committed. In 1991 he was accused of rape, sodomy, abduction and malicious wounding of a 10-year-old girl.

http://pilotonline.com reports:

“It’s been a long time trying to prove my innocence. I’ve been in since I was a teenager,” Darnell Pillips said in a statement distributed by his lawyers. “I’m an innocent man in prison. I have been for 24 years.”
At trial, the only physical evidence that linked Phillips to the case came from testing of a hair collected from a blanket that had been wrapped around the victim after the attack, professor of law Jennifer Givens said.
An expert testified that Phillips could not be excluded as being the person the hair came from. Later testing conducted at the request of Phillips’ family showed it was not Phillips’ hair and that the person it came from had a white mother, professor of law Deirdre Enright said. Both of Phillips’ parents are black.
Judge Edward W. Hanson Jr. then ordered that all biological evidence be tested, but law enforcement indicated it had been destroyed, Enright said.

Now I hope that Phillips will be released. No money can recover the loss of his youth but I hope he will have one more chance to start a new life. American justice system is corrupted. The fact that some items of evidence in Pillips’ case were destroyed in 1998 and this innocent man had to live in prison prooves that people who serve in criminal justice system are not humans.

If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more fucking time…

I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case. And yet the outcome is exactly the same: no crime, no trial; all harm, no foul.

At least in the Ferguson case you had conflicting witness testimony; you had conflicting forensics. You had the spectre, at least, of police self-defense. But, there is none of that. The coroner called it a homicide.

The guy’s not acting threatening and we know that not through witness testimony [of] unreliable bystanders, but because we are fucking watching it. Someone taped it.

We are definitely not living in a post-racial society, and I can imagine there are a lot of people wondering what kind of society we’re living in AT ALL.

U.S. courts are using a racist algorithm to hand out sentences

For years, courts across the country have been assigning bond amounts and sentencing the accused based on algorithms. Now both lawyers and data scientists warn that these algorithms could be poisoned by the very prejudices these systems were designed to escape. The questions are inherently flawed.

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LGBT minorities face unjust treatment in the criminal justice system.

A new report released Monday on LGBTQ people and the U.S. criminal justice system shows the community is overrepresented in jails and prisons. 

Additionally, LGBTQ people who are young and of color face disproportionate levels of homophobia and transphobia, and are subject to discriminatory laws and arrests that lead to their incarceration.

The report, titled “Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People of Color,” pegs the overrepresentation of LGBTQ people of color in the criminal justice system to three major factors 

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Hillary Clinton: ‘There Is Something Profoundly Wrong’ In Our Criminal Justice System

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday used her first major policy speech as a 2016 presidential candidate to draw attention to the death of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, saying it was part of an “undeniable” pattern in which black men in America are disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system.

“What we have seen in Baltimore should – indeed, I think does – tear at our soul,” said Clinton in her keynote address at the 18th annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University.

Continue reading, and watch her remarks here.

Vote for The Innocence Project of Florida to get a $100,000 Marketing grant! All you have to do is vote! It takes literally two seconds.  http://bowstern.com/mayday/

This is a cause that is very near and dear to me.

The Innocence Project of Florida is a 501©(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people from Florida prisons. My home state of Florida is notorious for it’s terrible criminal justice system and the Innocence Project works to change that.

Through the use of DNA testing, IPF helps innocent prisoners in Florida obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives. Their mission has not changed since our inception in 2003:

  • Screen and investigate cases in which meritorious innocence claims are identified; 
  • Secure DNA testing when biological evidence exists;
  • Advocate for the release of each inmate excluded from criminal responsibility by this highly critical analysis;
  • Provide transitional and aftercare services to exonerees; and
  • Advocate for necessary criminal justice reform to avoid wrongful incarcerations in the future 

Please choose Innocence Project of Florida from the drop down menu here: http://bowstern.com/mayday/

And signal boost with a reblog! 

(Once you’ve voted tell me in my ask box and I’ll reply with something kind/funny/random to show my appreciation!)

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

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This Making A Murderer Revelation Is Absolutely Agonizing

“(The juror) told us that they believe Steven Avery was not proven guilty,” filmmaker Laura Ricciardi shared. “They believe Steven was framed by law enforcement and that he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin.”

READ MORE

GIFS VIA.

The review found that prisoners suffering from serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are often punished with physical force for commonplace behaviors including using profanity and banging on cell doors.

“Prisoners with mental disabilities may struggle more than others to adjust to the extraordinary stresses of incarceration, to follow the rules governing every aspect of life and to respond promptly to staff orders,” said the report, “Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates With Mental Disabilities in U.S. Jails and Prisons.”

The study faulted prisons and jails for failing to offer sufficient mental health treatment; doing too little to protect mentally ill patients from physical abuse by staff members, who are often inadequately trained; and having leadership not sufficiently focused on mental health issues.
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“We now have a country that has more African Americans under criminal supervision than all the slaves in 1850.”

“The bedrock values of our country — ideals of equal justice under the law, or liberty and justice for all — should be elevated through our criminal justice system. We need to keep people safe and secure. That is in fact why, for mutual defense, our country was formed.

But we’ve compromised those values severely during this so-called drug war — so severely that we’re actually inhibiting public safety. We’re consuming gross amounts of taxpayer dollars. We are undermining human potential. And we’re doing it all in a way that has a significant, if not savage, disparate impact on poor people and minorities. That, to me, is a failure.”

“You have drug laws that are so severely, disparately enforced against some groups. Let’s take African Americans, for example: there’s no difference between black and white marijuana usage or sales, in fact. You go to college campuses and you’ll get white drug dealers. I know this from my own experience of growing up and going to college myself. Fraternity houses are not being raided by police at the level you see with communities in inner cities.

So equal usage of this drug, equal sale of this drug, but blacks are about 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for it. African Americans are more likely to get mandatory minimums, more likely to get about 13 percent longer sentences. It’s created these jagged disparities in incarceration. In my state, blacks are about 13 to 14 percent of the population, but they make up over 60 percent of the prison population.

Remember: the majority of people we arrest in America are nonviolent offenders.”

“Let me even go a step further, because I alluded to this point but didn’t make it clear enough: the violence in my community that’s driven by men who believe — and I think they’re wrong, but this is what they believe — that they have no fair shot in this country; they made a mistake and they’ve gone into a system that often turns them out worse than they went in, in terms of their proclivity for crime.

When you take juveniles, like we do in this country, and put them in solitary confinement — other nations consider that torture — you hurt them and you scar them through your practices. You expose them for nonviolent crimes to often violent people. You expose them to gang activity.

Then you throw them back on our streets. And you tell them, “We’re not going to help you get a job. You want a roof over your head? Forget it. In fact, if we catch you trespassing on public housing authority property, we’re going to take action against you. You’re going to get a Pell Grant, try to better yourself through education? Sorry, you’re banned from getting a Pell Grant.”

What do people do when they feel trapped and cornered by society?“

Cory Booker

Here’s another one you need to be reminded of after this.

Compared to a white person who kills another white person, a white person who kills a Black person is 3.54 times more likely to have that murder justified. If a Black person kills a white person, they are much less likely to be justified by our courts. If a Black person kills a Black person, again that likelihood as compared to whites killing whites is much less. You will see that it’s broken down by SYG vs Not…and there’s no HUGE difference for Black on white… And still 250% for white on Black in non Stand Your Ground cases.

This references PBS’ Is There Racial Bias In SYG Laws

Officer in Ramarley Graham Shooting Won’t Face U.S. Charges

A family’s four-year quest to hold a white New York City police officer criminally accountable for the fatal shooting an unarmed black teenager in the bathroom of his Bronx home ended on Tuesday, when federal prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges.

The episode unfolded on the afternoon of Feb. 2, 2012, when officers in a narcotics unit spotted Mr. Graham, 18, on a street in the Wakefield section of the Bronx.

The officers were suspicious of the way Mr. Graham moved his hands and thought he might be armed, according to the statement.

When Mr. Graham walked away, the officers, from the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit of the 47th Precinct, followed him to his family’s home.

“As Mr. Graham opened the front door, an unmarked police vehicle quickly pulled up and stopped near the front of the house,” Mr. Bharara’s statement said. “As Officer Richard Haste and another officer exited the vehicle, Mr. Graham looked in the direction of the officers and then quickly stepped inside the house and closed the front door.”

Officer Haste ran up to the front door and found it locked.

“He then unsuccessfully attempted to kick the door open,” according to the statement.

The officers went to the back of the house and gained access. Officer Haste made his way to the second floor.

“The evidence establishes that Officer Haste advanced into the hallway of the apartment with his firearm drawn, where he encountered Mr. Graham,” Mr. Bharara said.

Officer Haste told investigators that he ordered Mr. Graham to show his hands. Instead, according to his account, the teenager moved into an adjacent bathroom.

“At this critical moment in time, no other witness present in the apartment, including Mr. Graham’s grandmother, had a view of Mr. Graham,” according to the statement. “Officer Haste stated that he believed that Mr. Graham was reaching for the weapon that had been described” in an earlier police radio transmission “and that he fired one round from his weapon in response to a perceived deadly threat.”

It turned out that Mr. Graham was not armed. A bag of marijuana was found in the toilet bowl, but no gun was found at the scene.

The city ultimately agreed to pay the family $3.9 million to settle a wrongful-death suit.

Mr. Graham’s mother, Constance Malcolm, who was surrounded by supporters as she stood in front of the United States attorney’s office, called the decision by the federal prosecutor “another slap in the face.”

In the justice system, Ms. Malcolm said, it “doesn’t seem like our kids’ life matters.”

“Time and time again, you see it over and over,” she continued, “this officer walks free, they get a pay raise, they get a promotion and nothing has been done to them. This is sending the wrong message. Even in your own home, you’re not even safe anymore.”

source

American criminal justice system works like this: you may be killed bacuase you had to hide the bag of marijuana and the killer won’t be sentenced because cops are free to kill. I find it outrageous that cop even entered the house of Graham. All this story is sad and all that happened is so wrong. Improvement of criminal justice system should be the number one issue for our society. People die for nothing.

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School-to-Prison Pipeline - Today’s students experience prison-like environments, harsh school discipline, under investment, pressures and uncertainty.

Youth of color, LGBTQ students, and students with disabilities are punished more often and more harshly than their peers for the same misbehavior.

Sources: Advancement Project / Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track /www.safequalityschools.org

Imagine you’re a white guy facing capital murder charges where you can receive the death penalty… the victim in the case is a black man… when you go to trial and step into the courtroom… the judge is a black man… the two State prosecutors seeking the death penalty on you… are also black men… you couldn’t afford an attorney, so the Judge appointed you two defense lawyers who are also black men.. you look in the jury box… there’s 8 more black people and 4 hispanics… the only white person in the courtroom is you… How would you feel facing the death penalty? Do you believe you’ll receive justice?
—  Ray Jasper, who was executed on March 19th 2014, describing his circumstances in reverse when he went on trial.