Issues of Racial Profiling You May Not Have Heard About

At another incredible keynote speech today at Netroots Nation 2012 titled “Criminal Justice in America”, there were a few examples mentioned of issues related to the Trayvon Martin case you may not know of. I decided to pass on a few that were mentioned in the key note, other panels, as well as find a few more of my own examples. Racial profiling needs to be eradicated. The only way to do that is first by knowing where the problem exists.

Stop and Frisk (New York):

A program that gives police the ability to stop, question and search anyone that they have “reasonable suspicion” of committing criminal activity. Supporters say that it reduces crime, opponents question whether the police really have “reasonable” suspicion of the people that they stop. About 580,000 people were stopped in 2009, 55% of which were African-American and a large portion was also Hispanic. Only 6% of the stops resulted in arrests.

Cocaine vs. Crack Offenses:

“The sentences for crack offenses need to fall to a level in line with the punishments for powder,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “There is no rational medical or policy reason to punish crack more severely than powder. Cocaine is cocaine.” In the powder cocaine cases in 2000, 57% were against Latinos and 30% against African-Americans, even though the vast majority of powder cocaine users were white. 84.7% of crack cases were against African-Americans, 9% against Hispanics and only 5.6% against Whites. Where in reality, 64.4% of users are white. The federal mandatory minimum prison sentence disparity between cocaine and crack is 18 to 1, which was improved in 2009  from a disparity of 100 to 1.

Criminals And The Right to Vote:

Yes, it is a right. Most rights are restored to criminals after they leave jail, however voting is not one of them. Some states require you to petition the governor if you would ever like your right to vote to be restored after being in jail.

Report Illegal Immigrant Hotline:

There are multiple hotlines for people to call if they just “suspect” someone of being illegal, both national and local.


Those are just a few, feel free to leave more example in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

There is hope, the End Racial Profiling Act has been introduced and needs to be given more support!

Comments

  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    A newspaper reported that 9 of 10 felons who illegally voted in the 2004 Washington election who were willing to disclose to reporters which candidate they voted for said they voted for Dino Rossi, the GOP candidate. Not too surprisingly, the only woman in this group said she voted for Gov. Gregoire.

    I’m not personally opposed to restoring voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences, even though felons overwhelmingly tend to be Republican-voting white males. The Washington Department of Correction’s position on this issue seems to be in favor of restoring voting rights because they believe participating in the community in this manner makes ex-felons less likely to re-offend. As I recall, the American Correctional Association also strongly supports this position.

    The problem with illegal felons voting in 2004 was largely the state’s fault. Washington’s system for restoring voting rights was confusing and in many cases ex-felons were mistakenly told by their parole officers they were eligible to vote. Even the Secretary of State’s office couldn’t determine who was eligible and who wasn’t. How can you blame the ex-felons for voting, when even the state can’t figure out their eligibility? Our state has attempted to address this problem by enacting post-2004-election reforms, centralizing the voter database at the state level, and cleaning up the database.

  2. 2

    spews:

    Great post Roya. I’m glad that young progressives are learning about these issues. They’ve been ignored for far too long.

  3. 3

    Pete spews:

    People should know that there are serious voices within SPD and city leadership advocating the NYC “Stop and Frisk” model as a way to visibly combat the recent gun violence here.

    Good to know those folks are taking the criticisms of the DoJ, and SPD’s serial betrayals of whole communities of people they allegedly serve, seriously.

    Oh. Wait.

  4. 4

    Pete spews:

    The rot at SPD starts at the very top. Diaz needs to go. He should never have been hired, and McGinn’s record on all of this has been, at best, shameful.

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    3, 4 – I honestly believe that at some point we’ll have to address the gun issue. The GOP’s position on guns just isn’t acceptable in a civilized society. There are too many guns in America and they too readily fall into the wrong hands. At the very least, gun shows should be regulated the same as gun shops, in terms of requiring background checks. Republicans say all we need to do is enforce laws already on the books and get tougher with sentencing, but we’ve had enhanced sentencing laws for years, and even when prosecutors enforce them, they don’t deter anyone. The people out there committing Mass Shootings Of The Day (TM) aren’t thinking about how much time they’re going to do when they open fire. Most of the time, they kill themselves when the cops are closing in, so where’s the deterrent? There isn’t any. The only thing that will work is to keep guns out of the hands of these deranged individuals to begin with. It’s a growing societal problem, the human costs are very high, and we need to be rethinking our approach to this issue, including possibly amending the Second Amendment.

  6. 6

    No Time for Fascists spews:

    At the very least, make laws to keep the guns out of the hands of the crazy people.

  7. 7

    Pete spews:

    @5 No argument from me on the merits, though politically such changes would be nearly impossible for the foreseeable future and pragmatically, the technology for making handguns and their ammunition is so simple that even if illegal they’d be very, very hard to eradicate. More than laws, it’s gun culture itself that needs to be challenged.

    That said, the NYC model is randomly stopping and harassing people, primarily people of color. It’s the last thing Seattle needs not only because it is (or at least ought to be) a blatant violation of the 4th amendment, but because the last thing SPD needs to do right now is adopt a city-wide policy based on racial profiling, which is what the NYC model is. SPD needs to be working to restore trust in communities of color, not closing ranks, issuing vague, bullshit PR “reforms,” and destroying what little trust remains.

    What we have now is a department-wide culture that excuses, condones, and in some cases encourages thuggery. You really wanna give that culture license, hundreds of times a day, to stop random people they’d like to “beat the fucking [insert racial reference] piss” out of?

  8. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 A few million-dollar verdicts against the city would change that policy very quickly. Good trial lawyers make bad policies go away. I could live with an overzealous cop beating the rabbit piss
    out of me … if his department pays me enough.

  9. 9

    Puddybud spews:

    Puddy placed this into the HA record some time ago regarding this problem. Conservatives tried to level the sentencing field.

    And complicating the issue for the court is a reversal from the Obama administration. When the law was passed, the administration’s prosecutors told judges that the reduced sentences should apply only to those who committed their offenses after the legislation was enacted.

    But after Democratic lawmakers complained, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. changed the policy and said the new structure should be applied to those who had not yet been sentenced, regardless of when their offenses occurred. It is unclear how many defendants fall into that category.

    So, where does Roger DUMB Wabbit weigh in on this one with this craziness of the Obummer Sadministration? So, where does Proud Leftist weigh in on this one with this craziness of the Obummer Sadministration?

    Ask the archloch, proud keeper of the crazed databaze.

  10. 10

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    This thread was a refreshing departure from what’s been going on lately here at HA – a flood of inane, adolescent, sneering “Bobposts” that derail any conversation.

    Roya brings up an extremely important topic, and it has been discussed cogently and collegially. Until #9, that is. I had so hoped that he might have something constructive to say, alas.

    Let’s look…

    His first link, to the Washington (Moonie) Times, 2007, is an opinion piece decrying the Federal government (how unique!) for not focusing on the big players in the cocaine importation business, and it also lauds a group of conservative Senators (Sessions, Cornyn, Pryor, Salazar) for introducing legislation to correct the 110:1 disparity in sentencing. Fair enough. Actually reasonable, though I’m not sure it really added anything to the conversation, but, nice going, puddy.

    However, it seems it cannot last, and he falls completely apart soon after.

    The second post, to a story in the Washington Post, from April 2012, puddy describes as

    Conservatives tried to level the sentencing field.

    and puddy opines…

    weigh in on this one with this craziness of the Obummer Sadministration?

    …with a few gratuitous digs at RR and Proud Leftist and ylb.

    puddy didn’t seem to read, or didn’t understand, that the controversy was about the group of people who were convicted when the prior, “crack is MUCH MUCH badder than powder” law was in effect, but who had not yet been sentenced.

    The question was, should their sentencing be handled under to old rules or the new, presumably fairer, rules?

    To its credit, the Obama administration changed it position from the more draconian,

    Tough shit, we’re going to use the old law since you were convicted when that was in place, even though it deals with sentencing, which hasn’t happened yet.
    ..to…
    The new law deals with the sentencing phase, and since that part hasn’t happened yet, we’re going to use that, the newer rules, when sentencing these convicted felons.

    Eminently reasonable, and most responsive to the wishes of Congress in light of why the law was changed in the first place.

    If one read the article to which puddy linked, one would have read that the Obama administration change its policy to the more fair posture “In response to Democratic lawmakers”, and that at the Supreme Court, it was arch-conservatives Roberts and (the execrable) Scalia who were sneeringly critical of the argument for fairness and the earliest implementation of the new rules.

    *****

    So, here we have puddy posting what looks like a reasonable counterpoint, complete with some interesting links. Alas, he either didn’t read them, or didn’t understand them, or hoped no one else would follow his links (the latter a reasonable assumption, given past behavior).

    Rather than a dig, I would say, puddy, please keep trying, you can to better.

  11. 11

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    A few more words about puddy’s comment:

    Conservatives tried to level the sentencing field.

    …and this from his first link in the #9 post above:

    A bipartisan group of four senators who all served as state attorneys general — Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Cornyn of Texas, and Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Ken Salazar of Colorado — has introduced legislation in Congress to address the unfairness of the current 100-1 disparity in sentences between crack and powder cocaine.

    I had a sneaking suspicion that the authors of that Moonie Times opinion piece, JC Watts and some Christian minister, were likely full of shit, so I dug a little deeper.

    These from wikipedia on the Fair Sentencing Act:

    The U.S. Sentencing Commission recommended numerous time that Congress change the sentencing laws because of the disparities, and Congress rejected these recommendation in 1994 (Democratic control), 1997 (Republican control), and 2002 (Republican and divided control).

    -Charles Rangel (DEM) sponsored the Crack-Cocaine Equitable Sentencing Act of 2007, something he had been sponsoring since the “mid-1990s” that would have eliminated the disparities.

    -Jefferson Beuaregard Sessions III (REP) introduced the Drug Sentencing Reform Act in 2001, which would have reduced (but not eliminated) the disparity from 100:1 to 20:1.
    -Orrin Hatch (REP) sponsored the Fairness in Drug Sentencing Act in 2007 which would have again created a 20:1 ratio.
    -Joe Biden (DEM) sponsored the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act in 2007 in the Senate, along with Sheila Jackson Lee (DEM) in the House, which would have eliminated the disparity entirely.

    Bobby Scott (DEM) sponsored the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act (H.R.3245) in 2009, co sponsored by 60 other Democrats as well as Ron Paul and Mike Castle. As initially proposed, it would have eliminated the disparity entirely. The companion was introduced in the Senate by Dick Durbin, and cosponsored by Patrick Leahey and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. It was amended to get Republican support, and ultimately only reduced the disparity to 18:1.

    Ergo, puddy’s contention that:

    Conservatives tried to level the sentencing field.

    …is complete bullshit.

  12. 12

    Puddybud spews:

    puddy didn’t seem to read, or didn’t understand, that the controversy was about the group of people who were convicted when the prior, “crack is MUCH MUCH badder than powder” law was in effect, but who had not yet been sentenced.

    Then why did Obummer sign it instead of rejecting it?

    And using leftist wikipedia without a link?

    So everyone can read the whole article instead of Lib da Schmuck’s yanking out pieces so he could look good.

    Why does Lib da schmuck not place his links? Because anyone with a brain would determine he’s a real schmuck covered in smegma!

    Useless as ever!!!

  13. 13

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    @12
    Oh – sorry about the link – thanks for providing it, puddy. I did say that that info came from wikipedia, however.

    So everyone can read the whole article instead of Lib da Schmuck’s yanking out pieces so he could look good.

    Please point out – precisely – how the information I used was misleading or inaccurate.

    You can’t, because it wasn’t. It was your original braying that was completely misleading and dishonestly, or stupidly, wrong.

    Once again, with you conservative Republicans, it comes down to, “Stupid or lying?”

    Why is that?

  14. 14

    Puddybud spews:

    Oh – sorry about the link

    Then why did you not place the references next to the hijacks?

    Please point out – precisely – how the information I used was misleading or inaccurate.

    I just did. Oh and notice how I precisely answered it previously and how Lib da Schmuck skipped over it…

    And complicating the issue for the court is a reversal from the Obama administration. When the law was passed, the administration’s prosecutors told judges that the reduced sentences should apply only to those who committed their offenses after the legislation was enacted.

    But after Democratic lawmakers complained, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. changed the policy and said the new structure should be applied to those who had not yet been sentenced, regardless of when their offenses occurred. It is unclear how many defendants fall into that category.

  15. 15

    Bob spews:

    @1

    Wasn’t it just earlier this week that RR was claiming there was no voter fraud in the WA ’04 gubernatorial election?

    Now he’s leading with this.

    Lemme guess. Illegal voting is different from fraudulent voting.

  16. 17

    Bob spews:

    @10

    I think conversation is stimulated and perpetuated with at least some of what I contribute. I point to the thread Darryl created on Friday in support of this statement.

    To the extent I might hurt your feelings when I mock you for your “despair” over what you don’t like seeing happen to the country, well, too bad, so sad.

    I have no regret if I “derail” some of the liberal propaganda, to use RR’s description, that is regularly spewed here. Grow up a little and argue instead of whine.

  17. 18

    Bob spews:

    @1

    Meanwhile, FL is attempting to update its own voter database with more recent Federal database material…which the Feds are unwilling to provide.

    Why make it any easier for the state to identify illegal voters, the Feds seem to be saying.

  18. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 “Illegal voting is different from fraudulent voting.”

    Yes. Any ineligible vote is an illegal one, but an illegal vote is fraudulent only if done knowingly. An ineligible voter who didn’t know s/he was voting illegally is not committing voting fraud. To legally constitute “fraud” always requires a element of knowing, whereas an “illegal” act can be inadvertent or the result of a mistaken belief.

    Nowhere in comment #1 did I say or imply that those 10 ex-felons committed voting fraud. The judge did find 4 fraudulent votes, which he subtracted from Rossi’s tally, but these were not the same individuals as the 10 ex-felons who consented to discuss their votes with reporters.

  19. 21

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @16 Depends on how “deep” you dug. In most cases, Wiki is more objective and authoritative than rightwing blogs, and in some cases more than Faux News.

  20. 22

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    Well, brunch was lovely, thank you, as was our discussion about the idiocy of global warming deniers.

    So, I come back, having asked puddy to

    Please point out – precisely – how the information I used was misleading or inaccurate.

    To which he responded by transparently lying, claiming, “I just did,” and then proceeding to repost the same two paragraphs that manifestly demonstrated his misunderstanding of the word “evidence”.

    Puddy, you stated, erroneously,

    Conservatives tried to level the sentencing field.

    …to which I pointed out 1. the change in the sentencing rules was primarily a leftist cause, with a few exceptions, and 2. the change you seem to be screeching about by the Obama Administration was one of greater and more rapid implementation of that policy change.

    Your dishonesty is shameless, or your stupidity bottomless, or both.

    (BTW, were any of my words too big?)

  21. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 What’s crazy, per se, about the administration deciding to change what it tells federal prosecutors to ask for when judges sentence defendants? Whether it’s “crazy” would depend on what they’re asking for. If Congress changed a law to reduce sentencing disparities, and an administration responded by asking for even more disparate sentences than under the old law, you might respond “that’s crazy,” although more likely it reflects policy differences between the administration and Congress. In this case, the Obama administration appears to have drifted toward a more accomodative attitude toward Congress’ amendment of the sentencing law after getting feedback from Democrats in Congress. That’s not crazy, that’s politics. Or maybe it is crazy because it’s politics, if you believe politics by definition is craziness. I’m not sure I would dispute that, at the gut level, at least. It’s rare that anything political impresses me as rational.

    @10 In this case, the “opinion piece” apparently was written by two co-authors, both of whom are former Republican politicians with conservative political leanings, and neither of whom is a member of the Washington Times editorial board. The W.T. published it as a guest piece. So, in terms of content, I doubt it makes any difference whether the piece ran in the Washington Times or the Seattle Times. It could have run in both, for all I know, and perhaps a slew of other papers around the country. Inasmuch as the authors are politicians who bring a partisan viewpoint to their discussion of the issue, the piece reflects what you could arguably characterize as a “conservative” point of view on the two topics they discuss, sentencing disparity and law enforcement focus, which they mingle in one discussion because they see them as interrelated. There’s no reason why W.T., S.T., or other newspapers couldn’t run a companion piece reflecting a “liberal” point of view on the same issues, side by side — in fact, this is a common newspaper practice, although I don’t know whether that was done in this case. But I think the fact puddy’s link leads to the Washington Times editorial page isn’t significant in this instance, due to the fact this is a guest editorial and not a Washington Times editorial, with the paper merely providing a publishing platform to the authors.

    However, Liberal Scientist is certainly entitled to dispute puddy’s assertion that the impetus for sentencing reform came from the GOP aisle, which is a legitimate subject for debate. And L.S. has provided some evidence in support of his argument that it was Democrats, not conservatives, who brought about the changes in sentencing legislation. Puddy, of course, is free to respond with evidence that Republicans deserve the credit. It may be that it was a bipartisan effort or that Representatives from both parties voted for it.

  22. 24

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    Then why did Obummer sign it instead of rejecting it?

    This has nothing to do with the fact that the article you quote and link offers absolutely no support for your contentions that “conservatives tried to level the sentencing field” nor your babbling ‘criticism’ (I think that’s what you’re trying to do) “weigh in on this one with this craziness of the Obummer Sadministration?”

    That’s the problem with you, puddy – you go off on a partisan rant and offer flimsy or no support, and when what puny legs your ‘argument’ has are kicked out from under you, you run you mouth off in another direction, hoping no one follows, allowing you to start some new inane rant soon after.

    I just like pointing out how relentlessly full of shit you are, as it essentially inoculates us all ahead of time against whatever insanity the voices in your head tell you to spew. Just like asking you about the age of the universe – which you still haven’t spelled out for me. How old is it?

  23. 25

    Liberal Scientist is a a dirty fucking hippie spews:

    Puddy, of course, is free to respond with evidence…

    …which would be unprecedented.

  24. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 “the change you seem to be screeching about by the Obama Administration was one of great and more rapid implementation of that policy change”

    My impression from reading various sources leads me to think it was something more than this, that the Obama Administration changed its position on when the new sentencing guidelines took effect and therefore which defendants they applied to, but a lawyer would be more likely to pick up on this nuance than someone who isn’t schooled in legal doctrines of retroactivity, effective dates, etc. As with most things legal in nature, that’s not a simple subject.

    It also should not be lost sight of in this back-and-forth between Puddy and Liberal Scientist that there’s a difference between asking and ordering. A prosecutor asks; a judge orders. It’s one thing for a prosecutor to ask a judge to apply a legislative change only to persons convicted after a certain date; it’s another thing entirely for a judge to decide whether to go with that or opt for something else. There are several ways a judge can potential go:

    1. The new sentencing guideline applies to all defendants regardless of when the crime was committed, the defendant was convicted, or is being sentenced;

    2. It applies to all defendants being sentenced after the new guideline went into effect;

    3. It applies just to defendants convicted after it went into effect;

    4. It applies only to defendants whose crimes were committed after it went into effect;

    and several other variations or permutations are possible, each successively narrowing the class of defendants to whom the change applies.

    This sort of question comes up all the time as a result of legislative changes to laws, and sometimes has to be resolved by appellate courts. It can have a constitutional dimension due to the prohibition on ex poste facto laws, although this is more likely to affect the underlying law defining a particular act as a crime than a sentencing law. Courts often use the term “remedial” in conjunction with their analysis of whether a piece of legislation takes effect prior to its enactment or effective date; for example, a bill correcting a sentencing disparity might be ruled to apply to all defendants sentenced for a particular crime, if the purpose of the bill is to correct an unfairness or deficiency in the prior sentencing law, although it would be more common for courts to limit retroactivity to new sentencings to avoid disrupting corrections administration and flooding courts with a blizzard of resentencings. But it’s not inconceivable that an appellate court could order lower courts to grant resentencing hearings to everyone previously sentenced under that law. These are things lawyers argue about and judges decide.