Friday, July 15, 2016

Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force, but not in Shootings
"A new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police.

But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.

'It is the most surprising result of my career,' said Roland G. Fryer Jr., the author of the study and a professor of economics at Harvard. The study examined more than 1,000 shootings in 10 major police departments, in Texas, Florida and California.

The result contradicts the image of police shootings that many Americans hold after the killings (some captured on video) of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.; Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Walter Scott in South Carolina; Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La.; and Philando Castile in Minnesota.

The study did not say whether the most egregious examples — those at the heart of the nation’s debate on police shootings — are free of racial bias. Instead, it examined a larger pool of shootings, including nonfatal ones.

The counterintuitive results provoked debate after the study was posted on Monday, mostly about the volume of police encounters and the scope of the data. Mr. Fryer emphasizes that the work is not the definitive analysis of police shootings, and that more data would be needed to understand the country as a whole. This work focused only on what happens once the police have stopped civilians, not on the risk of being stopped at all. Other research has shown that blacks are more likely to be stopped by the police."

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Study Supports Suspicion that Police are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks
"The vast majority of interactions between police officers and civilians end routinely, with no one injured, no one aggrieved and no one making the headlines. But when force is used, a new study has found, the race of the person being stopped by officers is significant.

The study of thousands of use-of-force episodes from police departments across the nation has concluded what many people have long thought, but which could not be proved because of a lack of data: African-Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account."

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Teaching Police that Black Lives Matter
by Centre Alumnus Akwasi Owusu--Bempah

"In 2011 and 2012, I interviewed fifty-one black male police officers from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as part of a wide-ranging academic project aimed at surveying black attitudes toward the police. They spoke to me candidly but confidentially....

At one stage of my interviews I asked these officers to put forth suggestions on how to improve relations between the police and the black community in the GTA.  Given the robust public discussion that is now taking place in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement - and this month's tragic killings of both innocent black men and police officers in the United States - it is worth exploring these suggestions in some detail.  These suggestions are unique as they are informed by the officers' experiences as black males and their immersion in police culture.  Both perspectives are evident in the text below."

From Captive to Captor: A Journalist's Journey from Prisoner to Prison Guard
"Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer has spent much of his career reporting on criminal justice. For years he’d been frustrated by the secretive nature of the American private prison industry. Tired of old-fashioned document-hunting, he tried an unconventional approach. He went undercover, spending four months as a prison guard at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana."

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Busted
"Tens of thousands of people every year [in the U.S.] are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?"

Why Taser is Fighting to Appeal a Lawsuit it Won
"In January, judges on a federal circuit court instructed police departments to treat Tasers similarly to the way they treat firearms — as deadly weapons that can't be used when someone is merely resisting arrest. Those instructions were a big deal, setting policing precedent for departments in five states, and potentially leading the way for much more stringent rules about how Tasers are used by police nationwide.

Taser International, the company that exclusively produces and sells those electroshock weapons to police departments, filed a court document on June 13th asking the United States Supreme Court to give the circuit court’s instructions a second look. Taser’s move made sense: if the instructions go unchallenged, some police departments could change use-of-force policies to place Tasers more in line with firearms than with less-lethal devices. Taser International would thus risk competing directly with gun manufacturers to provide police departments with weapons, threatening the company’s business model."

More than 1 Million OxyContin Pills Ended up in the Hands of Criminals and Addicts. What the Drugmaker Knew
"In the waning days of summer in 2008, a convicted felon and his business partner leased office space on a seedy block near MacArthur Park. They set up a waiting room, hired an elderly physician and gave the place a name that sounded like an ordinary clinic: Lake Medical.

The doctor began prescribing the opioid painkiller OxyContin – in extraordinary quantities.... By December, she had prescribed more than 73,000, with a street value of nearly $6 million.

At its headquarters in Stamford, Conn., Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, tracked the surge in prescriptions. A sales manager went to check out the clinic and the company launched an investigation. It eventually concluded that Lake Medical was working with a corrupt pharmacy in Huntington Park to obtain large quantities of OxyContin....

Purdue did not shut off the supply of highly addictive OxyContin and did not tell authorities what it knew about Lake Medical until several years later when the clinic was out of business and its leaders indicted.

By that time, 1.1 million pills had spilled into the hands of Armenian mobsters, the Crips gang and other criminals."

Monday, July 11, 2016

City Study Shows Broken Windows Policing Doesn`t Reduce Serious Crimes
"A new Department of Investigation report [PDF] cuts against the assumptions that hold up NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's Broken Windows policing strategy—that cracking down on quality of life issues like excessive noise and public drinking deters more serious crimes like assault and murder.
Reviewing arrest data from the last six years—including more than 1.8 million quality-of-life summonses and 650,000 misdemeanor arrests—investigators found no correlation between the rate of misdemeanor summonses and arrests, and that of felony crime. While quality of life arrests and summonses decreased significantly between 2010 and 2015, there was no corresponding increase in felony complaints."

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The Punitive Society: Lectures at the College de France, 1972-1973

New Book Review published by Prof. Mariana Valverde in British Journal of Criminology