Colorlines

Criminal Justice

Priced out of justice

by Michelle Chen on April 15 2009, 4:50PM

If you’re accused of a crime, you have a right to a competent lawyer. That’s what the Constitution says, anyway. The Sixth Amendment plays out differently when you’re standing before a judge and your court-appointed counsel is dozing off…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Is the drug war leveling out?

by Michelle Chen on April 15 2009, 2:44PM

The latest trend lines suggest the war on drugs is becoming perversely more equal. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of white drug offenders in state prisons rose about 43 percent, while the number of Black offenders declined by…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Seeing through “broken windows”

by Michelle Chen on April 14 2009, 4:50AM

The “broken windows” theory has loomed large in urban law enforcement policies for years. Officials have framed public safety in urban neighborhoods as a matter of stamping out “disorder,” contending that the decline of a community starts with small…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Colorblind No More

by Daisy Hernandez on April 8 2009, 12:00PM

A growing number of states assess the racial impact of drug laws.

Topics: Criminal Justice

Latinos, Blacks and the Criminal Justice System: Low Confidence, High Exposure

by Jorge Rivas on April 8 2009, 9:01AM

The Pew Research Center has released a survey that sampled confidence levels of Blacks, Latinos and whites have on the Criminal Justice System. Six-in-ten (61%) Hispanics say they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that the…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Witholding Judgment After a Weekend of Shootings

by Julianne Hing on April 6 2009, 2:04PM

After hearing about the Binghamton shooting on Friday, I knew I did not want to turn on the TV all weekend. I didn’t want to sink into a blood-soaked stupor of non-stop updates about the story. And once I…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Getting to the bottom of prison reform

by Michelle Chen on April 2 2009, 9:40PM

Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia) has a crazy idea: reform the system that has locked up more than two million people, devastated communities, and undermined public safety. His bill, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009, is far from…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Oakland’s Young People Respond [VIDEO]

by Guest Columnist on April 2 2009, 10:58AM

by Nick James, Charles McDonald This past November Oakland voters approved a measure that would increase funding to after school programs and services, overwhelmingly supporting youth of color. Unfortunately, after the election some members of the council passed a…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Schools & Youth

Another kind of toxic debt

by Michelle Chen on March 23 2009, 8:54PM

Unprecedented outrage over the Wall Street bailout has stoked accusations of criminality, both real and figurative, and calls for retributive justice. Incidentally, amid rising populist anger at white-collar depravity, some more conventional targets for public disdain are looking for…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Finding the Words for This Tragedy

by Julianne Hing on March 23 2009, 4:33PM

An officer guards the building where Lovelle Mixon and two Oakland police officers were shot and killed. photo credit: Getty Images All day I’ve been sifting through the news reports from the tragic fatal shootings of Lovelle Mixon and…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Calling it like they see it

by Michelle Chen on March 19 2009, 10:15PM

Often seen as a cloistered outpost of New York City, Long Island is now becoming known for the blight of racial violence. Last November, the killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, sparked public outcry over hate crimes on…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Immigration

Kids on the inside

by Michelle Chen on March 17 2009, 7:15AM

The beating death of a young prisoner at New York’s infamous Rikers Island jail was not an isolated incident; new evidence has emerged that even the facility’s staff was complicit in enforcing a system of brutality. According to local…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Reproductive health in lockdown

by Michelle Chen on March 12 2009, 6:08PM

For many women behind bars, barriers to reproductive health follow them from their communities to their prison cells. A study published in the current issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health found that an incarcerated woman’s ability to…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Health

New York’s uphill climb to drop the rock

by Michelle Chen on March 6 2009, 3:55PM

All eyes are on New York as it moves toward reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws. The mandatory-sentencing statutes have reshaped the prison population since the 1970s by drawing in thousands of people of color and low-level and nonviolent offenders….

Topics: Criminal Justice, Politics

Targeting Another Generation of Black Men

by Ali Winston on March 2 2009, 12:00PM

Despite lawsuits, review boards and more, Oakland fails to reform its police department.

Topics: Criminal Justice

Juvenile justice report

by Michelle Chen on February 12 2009, 1:56PM

Some interesting recent twists at the intersection of youth and the prison system. A dozen young people in the custody of Massachusetts Department of Youth Services could soon be liberated, thanks to a Supreme Judicial Court decision striking down a…

Topics: Criminal Justice

What stimulus could mean if it included the formerly incarcerated

by on February 11 2009, 12:14PM

Fourteen months ago, Vincent, a slim 46-year-old Black man with a youngish face and a pressed plaid shirt, worked as a maintenance technician in Detroit. He’d been with the company for almost three months, but five days before he…

Topics: Criminal Justice

Targeted neighborhoods, pt. 2: NYPD stop and frisk

by Michelle Chen on January 16 2009, 5:23PM

A new, disturbingly timely report by the Center for Constitutional Rights documents glaring racial disparities in the stops and searches carried out by New York City police. The analysis is hardly surprising, but the data does provide statistical muscle to…

Topics: Criminal Justice, Politics

The Bronx Defenders

by Momo Chang on January 6 2009, 12:00PM

Changing the criminal justice system

Topics: Criminal Justice

Bobby Jindal is No Reformer

by Guest Columnist on December 17 2008, 10:39AM

Editor’s note: As Bobby Jindal tries to create a national image, to possibly run for president in 2012, the Louisiana justice system remains in shambles when it comes to serving Black people and protecting our basic rights. Denouncing the…

Topics: Criminal Justice