A Chance for Criminal Justice Reform

Pixabay.com

Pixabay.com

 

From ACLU.org:

Right now, the Senate is deciding whether to vote on a bill called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – the most significant criminal justice reform legislation to be considered by Congress in the last five years. It will essentially ban juvenile solitary confinement in the federal system and retroactively reduce overly harsh drug sentences.

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As Obama Commutes the Sentences of Drug Offenders, Incarceration of Minorities is Examined

President Obama hasn’t been the greatest at handling America’s race issues, or even addressing them for that matter. But he took an admirable step in that direction recently:

President Obama announced on Monday [July 13th]  that he was commuting the sentences of 46 drug offenders, intensifying a campaign to overhaul the nation’s criminal justice system as he more than doubled the number of nonviolent criminals granted clemency during his time in office.”

– NYTimes.com

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Race Relations with Police worsening in U.S., AP votes it Top Story of 2014

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

Relations between minority communities and local law enforcement are rapidly deteriorating across the U.S. in the wake of two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the killing of unarmed black men (Michael Brown, Eric Garner), and the subsequent murder of two NYPD cops.  The most prominent flashpoints have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and now New York City, but worsening race relations are a national problem which has shaken America to its moral foundations.

At the heart of the matter is the dangerous increase in economic inequality that has plagued the U.S. and other western countries since the Great Recession.  As societies become more stratified and segregated along class and ethnic lines, civil unrest intensifies as a natural result.  This pits a stubborn – and predominantly white – administrative establishment against an angrily disaffected – and racially diverse – population with law enforcement…

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American Criminal Justice System is a Civil Rights Crisis

Photo courtesy of komonews.com

Photo courtesy of komonews.com

 

From ThinkProgress.org:

The last few months have issued several potent reminders that racism still pervades our criminal justice system, as even some prominent and powerful American black leaders publicly professed that they had to warn their young sons about police profiling.

There is still a sizable group of Americans that say that there is no more racism. They point to our Black president (who is actually half-Black), and note that Blacks aren’t being hanged anymore. But as Blacks and other minority groups know first-hand, there is indeed still racism.

In some cases, it has simply taken a disguised form. For instance, if you are a minority student, it is likely that your teacher assumes your grades won’t be as high as your white counterparts. He or she won’t say it to your face- that kind of blatant racism in no longer as acceptable as it once was. That it is not acceptable to say, however, doesn’t mean it is not thought. And if it’s thought, it’s likely to have an influence on how that teacher grades minority students.

There are some cases in which blatant racism is still allowed, but hushed up in public. Though this racism is more visible, the taboo of verbalizing it allows some White people to escape knowledge of it’s presence. It also allows those who are the perpetrators of it to deny its presence.

The unfortunate result of all this is people not realizing how bad racism still is, especially in the criminal justice system.

The article cited above offers hard data on what goes on in our justice system, hopefully educating and prompting all of society to have more dialogue about racism and its present-day impacts.

From ThinkProgress.org:

The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.

Black men born in the United States in 2001 have a one in three chance of being incarcerated at some point in their lifetime, according to Department of Justice statistics.

The New York Police Department city made more stops of young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in the city!

Blacks are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites, even though they use the drug at similar rates, according to an analysis of federal data by the American Civil Liberties Union published earlier this year.

For more, go to ThinkProgress.org