Criminal Justice News Round-Up: July 27-31
This week, as with every other week in 2015, and likely before, has been punctured with the loss of Black lives at the hands of police and the criminal justice system. Here are this week's stories on the harsh realities and glimmers of hope in the criminal justice system.
Charles Blow writes about the tragic and unprovoked death of Samuel Dubose. The case revealed a lot of things, from how officers will believe they can get away with lies even while wearing a body camera, the perils of driving while Black (again) and how quickly an indictment can happen with a sympathetic DA. Blow discusses how we can prevent future events of this type.
A resource put together by activist Deray McKesson that documents all of the inconsistencies and suspicious pieces of Sandra Bland’s death, consolidated in one place.
As the questions around Sandra Bland continue, this piece documents the all-too-common phenomenon of jailhouse death and comes to a conclusion- these people shouldn’t have been sitting in jail in the first place. Pretrial detention is overwhelmingly unnecessary, and as we remember Sandra Bland, Ralkina Jones, Rexdale Henry, and others, it is important to remember that they never would have been in jail if it wasn’t for our bail system.
For those with open warrants, even for crimes as minor as drinking in public, life can be stressful. Any interaction with the government could mean getting arrested. Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson has started an initiative allowing people to get these warrants resolved so they can “Begin Again”, as the program title goes.
Homeless people’s lives are already incredibly difficult, between finding food, shelter, trying to to earn some sort of living, and dealing with prejudice from wealthier people. On top of all this, in many cities, they are charged with crimes for doing things that are unavoidable considering they have nowhere to go. Los Angeles, the city profiled in this article, is a perfect example of trying to solve a social and economic issue with incarceration, rather than a sustainable solution.
Low-income neighborhoods are notoriously lacking in resources and government investment. However, this study exposes how much the government really is spending, block by block, in poor neighborhoods, not to help the residents, but rather to lock them up. It begs the reader to imagine a world where we spent a million dollars on these blocks in child care, food support, education, therapy, conflict resolution, health care, or other forms of justice reinvestment that would actually make the streets safer in the long term.