Tuesday, May 6, 2008


BY Terry Bankert 5/6/08 early edition
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Full article at http://goodmorningflint.blogspot.com/
Flint Talk summary http://flinttalk.com/viewtopic.php?p=28248#28248
Saturday May 3rd Pod cast: Check out http://www.stickam.com/viewMovieGallery.do?uId=175398425 for more show videos!!

REFLECTIONS. Few studies say the War on Crime has worked. What has happened is increased desparation in the cities. The Criminal statutes and Judicial discretion must be responsibly studied and changed by our State Legislature. But this is only a piece of the puzzel to turn our cities around. I wonder how the Governors task force is doing. In Genesee County we have a drug court. We have good judges doing good work. Only the legislature can change the system.[trb]

More than two decades after President Ronald Reagan escalated the war on drugs, arrests for drug sales or, more often, drug possession are still rising. And despite public debate and limited efforts to reduce them, large disparities persist in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two races use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates.[n]

Both Democratic presidential candidates, SenatorBarack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, have strongly condemned the racial disparities in arrests and incarceration during their campaigns, although neither has said how they would end them. [N]

THE WAR WAS BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION CITIES WERE LESS SAFE The U.S. "war on drugs" disproportionately targets urban minority neighborhoods with African Americans being arrested and imprisoned on drug charges at much higher rates, according to a pair of reports released on Monday by rights groups.[r] But they note that the murderous crack-related urban violence of the 1980s, which spawned the war on drugs, has largely subsided, reducing the rationale for a strategy that has sowed mistrust in the justice system among many blacks. [N] We want cities to be safer. But do the high number of young felons, because of low level use drug conviction keep the inner city unsafe?[trb]

SPECIAL TREATMENT New York-based Human Rights Watch said a review of new statistics across 34 states found persistent racial disparities among drug offenders sent to prison.[r]

MORE WHITES ON THE STREET USING... According to national surveys, about the same percentage of blacks and whites use illegal drugs, meaning that because the white population is much larger, many more whites than blacks actually use illegal drugs.[M] Apart from crowding prisons, one result is a devastating impact on the lives of black men: they are nearly 12 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men, according to the Human Rights Watch report. [N] "The alarming increase in drug arrests since 1980, concentrated among African Americans, raises fundamental questions about fairness and justice," writes Ryan S. King, policy analyst for The Sentencing Project and author of its report, "Disparity by Geography: The War on Drugs in America's Cities."[M]

SAME DRUG GETS MORE TIME The 67-page report concludes that a black man is 11.8 times more likely than a white man to be sent to prison on drug charges, and a black woman is 4.8 times more likely than a white woman.[r] In 16 states, African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at rates between 10 and 42 times greater than the rate for whites, the report said.[r] More than four in five of the arrests were for possession of banned substances, rather than for their sale or manufacture. Four in 10 of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession, according to the latestF.B.I. data.[N]

WE DO MOST OF THE WORK BUT THEY GET MORE SPECIAL TREATMENT A separate study by New York-based Human Rights Watch found that New Jersey was one of 16 states in which blacks were imprisoned for drug offenses between 10 and 42 times more often than whites.[n] "Most drug offenders are white, but most of the drug offenders sent to prison are black," said Jamie Fellner, a Human Rights Watch official and author of the report.[r] The study attributed the high arrest figures to local policies that target all levels of the drug trade instead of focusing only on high-level traffickers.[n]

DRUG POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES IS NOT WORKING "The solution is not to imprison more whites but to radically rethink how to deal with drug abuse and low-level drug offenders."[r] But Jerry Ann Hamilton, president of the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, called for "an audit of the Milwaukee County Criminal Justice System to determine to what extent, if any, race and national origin play in arrest and charging decisions."[M] Some crime experts say that the disparities exist for sound reasons.Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, said it made sense for police to focus more on fighting visible drug dealing in low-income urban areas, largely involving members of minorities, than on hidden use in suburban homes, more often by whites, because the urban street trade is more associated with violence and other crimes and impairs the quality of life. [N] “The disparities reflect policing decisions to use drug laws to try and reduce violence and to respond to the demand by law-abiding residents in poor neighborhoods to clean up the drug trade,” Ms. Mac Donald said. [N] "The disparities exist because the justice system perpetuates these disparities," she said.[M]

FINALLY MICHIGAN MAKES THE TOP 10 Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were listed as the 10 states with the greatest racial disparities in prison admissions for drug offenders.[r]

RESULTS OF SENTENCING PROJECT In a separate study, the Washington-based Sentencing Project examined data from 43 of the largest American cities between 1980 and 2003.[r] The study found that, since 1980, the rate of drug arrests for African Americans increased by 225 percent, compared to 70 percent among whites.[r] In nearly half of the cities, the odds of arrest for a drug offense among African Americans relative to whites more than doubled, the report said.[r] Among other findings, the report said African-American drug arrests increased at 3.4 times the rate of whites despite similar rates of drug use.[r]

TRENDS, IT IS EASIER TO FIND THE BLACKS, OF SPECIAL TREATMENT... "These trends come not as the result of higher rates of drug use among African Americans, but, instead, the decisions by local officials about where to pursue drug enforcement," said Ryan King, a policy analyst for The Sentencing Project.[r] First, overall crime rates are higher in many low-income African-American communities. As a result, there is a higher police presence in these neighborhoods.[M] "The community wants police presence," Chisholm said. "But by its nature it creates a greater level of scrutiny."[M] "The chances of being stopped by police are greater in the city than in the suburbs," he said.[M] Second, while drug sales in suburbs are underground and by word of mouth, sales in low-income African-American communities are more likely to occur in public spaces such as street corners. Finally, racial profiling contributes to the disparity, according to the report.[M] "The high degree of subjectivity involved in detecting and making an arrest for a drug offense . . . creates an atmosphere where racial profiling can prosper under the aegis of professional discretion," the report says.[M]

WHAT’S HAPPENING IS NOT A GOOD THING State First Assistant Public Defender Tom Reed said that what he called the "collateral consequences" of imprisonment can ruin lives and undermine communities. A prison term can restrict employment, housing, the ability to acquire student loans and access to a driver's license.[M] "We add this to someone getting mixed up in some drug activity, we disable them from getting their life on track.[M] In December, the United States Sentencing Commission amended the federal sentencing guidelines for convictions involving crack cocaine, which is more often used by blacks, somewhat reducing the length of sentences compared with those for convictions involving powder cocaine. But mandatory and longer sentences for crack violations remain embedded in federal and state laws. [N]

RETURN TO JUDICIAL DISCRETION, GUESS WORK, SENSITIVITY The project and Human Rights Watch recommended the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and a return to judicial discretion in the sentencing of drug offenders.[r] "The solution," Fellner suggests, "is not to incarcerate more whites but to end the incarceration of low level drug offenders and to increase the availability of substance abuse treatment."[N] Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Carl Ashley decried "the lack of alternatives for judges to address the underlying needs of the individual."[M] Ashley presides over a felony drug court and is chairman of committee that advises the state Supreme Court on planning and policy.[M] He said Milwaukee is one of the few large cities in the U.S. without a drug treatment court.[M] "It is really unacceptable we don't have one," he said. "Incarceration is not the fix-all for our social problems."[M]

JUST THINK WOULD WE BE BETTER OFF IF EVERY JUDGE WERE JUDGE JUDY, OR JUDGE BROWN. OR..... JUDGE ROY BEAN? “The way the war on drugs has been pursued is one of the biggest reasons for the growing racial disparities in criminal justice over all,” said Ryan S. King, a policy analyst with the Sentencing Project who wrote its report, which focuses on the differential in arrest rates, not only between races but also among cities around the country. Some cities pursue urban, minority drug use far more intensively than do others.[N]

Posted here by Terry Bankert ...
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Link here for a re broadcast OF THE 5/3/08 GOOD MORNING FLINT ON FLINT TALK RADIO http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=113134&cmd=apop

Saturday May 3rd Pod cast: video Check out http://www.stickam.com/viewMovieGallery.do?uId=175398425 for more show videos!!

—where did this stuff come from---
[r] Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0542853020080506
[N] Newsday.com http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newjersey/ny-bc-nj--drugarrestrates0505may05,0,3712768.story
[m] Milwaukee Journal http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=747093

The Sentencing Project study: http://www.sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/publications/dp_dru garrestr eport.pdf

[trb] Comments of Terry Bankert with CAP headlines. http://attorneybankert.com/

[N] The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/us/06disparities.html?hp Human Rights Watch study: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/05/05/usint18745.htm

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