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Racial Disparity Manual for Practioners, Policymakers Published


The Sentencing Project has just published a new edition of "Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System," a comprehensive manual for practitioners and policymakers. The publication provides insight into how racial disparities develop in the criminal justice system, and workable solutions to address and reduce disparities. The manual provides strategies for addressing disparities at each stage of the system, as well as 17 "best practices" illustrating practitioner approaches for enhancing fairness.

"Reducing Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System" is a tool for criminal justice practitioners, policymakers, and community organizations seeking to develop constructive approaches to one of the most challenging problems facing the criminal justice system.

-The Sentencing Project

National African American Drug Policy Coalition Conference

This is a major conference being held at Howard University. The Conference program will focus on issues of what drug law policy changes should be seriously considered by the next Administration, establishing the same sentencing provisions for crack cocaine as for powder cocaine and repeal of mandatory sentencing laws and restoration of judicial discretion in sentencing, but with reasonable standards for appellate review. The program will also include panel discussions on increasing significantly the number of drug courts and their funding and supporting personnel, making sure that they reach more non-violent drug offenders in a culturally sensitive manner, and that the treatment duration is long enough to really be effective based on a public health medical standard. There will also be a panel discussion on using drug courts to provide necessary treatment for substance abuse, alcoholism and related mental health issues of returning veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places abroad, and whether a system of drug courts should be created within the Federal courts to be presided over by United States Magistrate Judges which would include this function. In the area of juvenile justice, there will be presentation on the proposed Youth PROMISE Act - The Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act. The policy positions set forth in this proposed Act are essential if we are to interrupt the pipeline of young African American youth headed to prison. In the area of adult criminal prosecution, we will focus in a separate panel on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities and bias in criminal prosecutions in the United States. We will present a discussion of the proposed Federal "Judicial Integrity Act of 2008" draft Bill introduced by Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on July 10, 2008 and whether there should be a similar pilot program developed for State prosecutors' offices in ten (10) States under a Federal justice assistance grant program. Finally, we will have an extended panel discussion on implementing the Second Chance Act signed into law this past April, how to make it effective and how to obtain needed appropriations and adequate supporting personnel. This presentation will also include a discussion on how can we overcome problems of literacy, and low education and skills level of many such former inmates, which are barriers for jobs existing in our economy in the 21st century. Finally, this panel will focus on how can we reduce significantly the recidivism rate by former prison inmates and assure the public safety. This promises to be one of the most substantive conferences to be recently held dealing with issues impacting the African American community, as well as other minority groups, and the healthcare, criminal and juvenile justice systems. Our speakers and panelists are among the most knowledgeable and expert in the field. For this two-day conference, including two luncheons, the early registration fee through Monday, September 15, 2008 is $160.00 payable by check to the "National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc." The Registration Fee after September 15, 2008 and on-site is $185.00. The Registration Fee should be mailed to Ms. Rosalee Morris, Administrative Assistant, Center for Drug Abuse Research, Howard University, Holy Cross Hall, Room 400, 2900 Van Ness Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008. Anyone with questions may call Senior Judge Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., National Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc. and Conference Planner at (202) 806-8622 or 806-8623 or send an e-mail to [email protected] or call Ms. Rosalee Morris at (202) 806-8600.
Tue, 09/23/2008 - 8:30am - Wed, 09/24/2008 - 6:00pm
Washington, DC
United States

Release's Drugs, Race & Discrimination Conference

Release’s annual conference this year takes the important step of focusing the industry on the complex and damaging practice of routine prejudice in health services. The morning session of this one-day event includes addresses by two doctors and a nurse, each of whom have vital experiences in the drug treatment field. Dr Gordon Morse is the new Clinical Lead for the Turning Point Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service in Somerset. Dr Morse will look at how treatment attitudes towards the personal use of psychoactive drugs amount to simple prejudice. He will also examine how treatment systems set up to help those who are suffering the direct or indirect consequences of their drug use, are also influenced by institutional discrimination that arises from the same prejudices. Mandie Wilkinson, a qualified nurse for over 25 years, now leads the Blood Borne Virus nursing team at a large London hospital. She will examine how current prejudices in the treatment sector lead to limited options for drug users infected with Hepatitis C. Mandie’s research shows that there are high rates of treatment compliance amongst active injecting drug users, indicating that refusal to treat such individuals amounts to little more than discrimination. The other sessions will include talks from leading experts in the field of youth discrimination and racial prejudice. The original material and latest research that will be presented at this event is crucial for understanding and informing the drug policy debate. There will be time for contributions from the floor during each session and plenty of networking opportunities throughout the day. This is an event not to be missed. For more information including registration, see or contact Claudia Rubin at 020 7749 4037 or [email protected].
Thu, 09/18/2008 - 8:30am - 4:15pm
United Kingdom

Ohio Officer Acquitted of Killing Mom Holding Baby [in Drug Raid]

Lima, OH
United States
Associated Press

Racial Profiling: Latest Illinois Report Prompts Civil Rights Groups to Call for End to Consent Searches

The Illinois Department of Transportation earlier this month issued its annual report on race and traffic stops. The results showed that police were much more likely to ask minority drivers to consent to searches without probable cause, but that they were much less likely to actually find drugs, guns, or other contraband in consent searches directed at minority drivers.
car search
The results are consistent with the first three years of results under the state's traffic stop racial profiling monitoring program. That program went into effect in 2004 after the state legislature passed legislation authored by then state Sen. Barack Obama (D) enacting it.

The results prompted a coalition of civil rights groups to last week call on Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to end the practice of consent searches. In a letter to Blagojevich, the ACLU of Illinois, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, the Rainbow/Push Coalition and several other civil rights groups called consent searches an "invidious device" that results in "condition of inequality imposed on minority citizens on our roadways."

The groups specifically asked Blagojevich to end consent searches by the Illinois State Patrol, which had even worse results than law enforcement at large. According to the statewide data, police agencies searched blacks three times more often and Hispanics more than twice as often as whites. But police discovered illicit goods roughly twice as often when whites agreed to searches. State troopers similarly singled out minority drivers, but their "hit rate" for discovering contraband during consent searches was even more racially skewed. Troopers were twice as likely to discover contraband in consent searches of whites than blacks, and eight times more often than in vehicles driven by Hispanics.

"Now we have the proof in the pudding and that is that not only are these searches occurring with greater frequency among minority drivers, but that they are occurring with dramatically less effectiveness," Harvey Grossman, legal director for the ACLU of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune.

"Officers are more trusting of whites than they are of blacks, and they are particularly suspicious of Hispanics," Grossman said of state police. "It's clear from the data that officers require less certainty when they ask Latinos to be searched than they do whites, there are more stringent standards for whites."

The Tribune also reported that Blagojevich, who has been critical of racial profiling in the past, issued a statement saying he opposed "any unjustified differential treatment of any group," but did not address the request to stop the searches. "I look forward to working with the coalition to further our shared goals," Blagojevich said.

Conclave: Impact of Drugs on Communities of Color

The American Bar Association Council on Racial & Ethnic Justice will host a unique and urgent social justice event to address the negative impact of drugs on communities of color. This conclave titled “Impact of Drugs on Communities of Color” will include leaders from legal, medical, dental, social work and numerous, diverse specialties who have worked to combat drugs in communities of color. This forum will provide the NBCSL with a unique opportunity to collaborate with these influential leaders and organizations in resolving the multitude of complex issues related to drugs e.g. crime, delinquency, health, economics and domestic violence. Here is what this conclave will accomplish: 1) Concrete strategies for resolving key issues that hinder progress in combating the negative impact of drugs on communities of color; 2) A collaborative plan of action that will be implemented by the partners of the conclave; and 3) Identifying model programs that demonstrate how successful partnerships can be implemented in diverse communities. Our goal is to collect strategies, recommendations and capture the essence of successful projects that have been implemented throughout the country. We are compiling these resources in one publication for wide distribution to individuals and organizations in need of these resources. Questions about registering or other issues should be directed to Rachel Patrick at [email protected] or 312/988-5408.
Sat, 08/09/2008 - 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Music Box/Winter Garden/Palace Majestic Complex, 6th Floor
New York, NY
United States

New Report: ‘Drug War’ Unjust to African Americans

[Courtesy of The Sentencing Project] Friends: The Sentencing Project's new study, Disparity by Geography: The War on Drugs in America's Cities, is the first city-level analysis of drug arrests, examining data from 43 of the nation's largest cities between 1980-2003. The study found that since 1980, the rate of drug arrests in American cities for African Americans increased by 225%, compared to 70% among whites. Black arrest rates grew by more than 500% in 11 cities during this period and in nearly half of the cities, the odds of arrest for a drug offense among African Americans relative to whites more than doubled. Among The Sentencing Project report's key findings: - Six cities experienced more than a 500% rise in overall drug arrests between 1980 and 2003: Tucson (887%), Buffalo (809%), Kansas City (736%), Toledo (701%), Newark (663%), and Sacramento (597%). - Extreme city variations in drug arrests point to local enforcement decisions as prime contributor to racial disparity. - African American drug arrests increased 3.4 times the rate of whites despite similar rates of drug use. The report was released in conjunction with Human Rights Watch's Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States, which documents that in 34 states the persistent racial disparities among drug offenders sent to prison. Both organizations urge public officials to restore fairness, racial justice and credibility to drug control efforts. They recommend public officials take a number of concrete steps, including: Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and restoring judicial discretion to sentencing of drug offenders; Increasing public funding of substance abuse treatment and prevention outreach to make these readily available in communities of color in particular; Enhancing public health-based strategies to reduce harms associated with drug abuse and reallocating public resources accordingly. Both reports follow in the wake of the March 2008 recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Committee urged that U.S. criminal justice policies and practices address the unwarranted racial disparities that have been documented at all levels of the system. -The Sentencing Project

Feature: "Color Blind" Drug War Disproportionately Targets Black Americans

America's drug laws do not reference race, but the way they are enforced has a gravely disproportionate impact on African Americans, according to two reports released this week. While the two studies' conclusions are no surprise to anyone who has observed the evolution of American drug law enforcement, they provide yet more confirmation that drug prohibition in the United States reeks of racial injustice.
Released together, the two reports, one from Human Rights Watch and one from the Sentencing Project, paint a picture of a society where the color of one's skin seems to be the biggest determinant of whether one will be arrested or imprisoned on drug charges. While whites commit more drug offenses, blacks are much more likely to be busted and jailed for them, the reports found.

In its report, "Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States," Human Rights Watch examined racial disparities among drug offenders in 34 states. In those states, black men were 11.8 times more likely to be arrested on drug charges than whites, and black women were 4.8 times more likely to be arrested on drug charges.

In 16 of those states, blacks are sent to prison on drug charges at rates more than 10 times greater than whites, Human Rights Watch found. The states with the most egregious racial disparities in sentencing are, in rank order, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Colorado, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

While blacks make up 13% of the population, they accounted for 33% of all drug arrests and more than 53% of all drug offenders entering prison in 2003, the last year studied in the report.

"Most drug offenders are white, but most of the drug offenders sent to prison are black," said Jamie Fellner, senior counsel in the US program at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "The solution is not to imprison more whites but to radically rethink how to deal with drug abuse and low-level drug offenders."

While the Human Rights Watch report examined disparities at the state level, the Sentencing Project's 45-page study, "Disparity by Geography: The War on Drugs in America's Cities," looked at racial disparities at the municipal level. The findings were equally grim. In examining data from 43 of the nation's largest cities, the report found that since 1980, the rate of drug arrests for blacks in those cities had increased 225%. While whites have also been caught up in the ever-expanding drug war, their arrest rate increased by a much lower 70%.

In 11 of the cities examined, black arrest rates on drug charges are more than five times what they were in 1980. In half of those cities, blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be arrested, even though use rates are roughly constant along racial lines.

"The alarming increase in drug arrests since 1980, concentrated among African Americans, raises fundamental questions about fairness and justice," said Ryan King, policy analyst for The Sentencing Project and author of the report. "But even more troubling is the fact that 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."

The impact of local decisions about how to prosecute the drug war can be seen in cities across the country. In Tucson and Buffalo drug arrests have increased more than eight-fold between 1980 and 2003; in Kansas City and Toledo, more than seven-fold; in Newark and Sacramento, about six-fold. In some other cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, policing decisions have resulted in much lower increases in drug arrests.

As Human Rights Watch's Fellner noted above, the answer is not to arrest and imprison more white people for drug offenses. Instead, Human Rights Watch and The Sentencing Project urged public officials to address racial inequities and restore credibility to the criminal justice system with a number of reforms, including:

  • Eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and restoring judicial discretion to sentencing of drug offenders;
  • Increasing public funding of substance abuse treatment and prevention outreach to make these readily available in communities of color in particular;
  • Enhancing public health-based strategies to reduce harms associated with drug abuse and reallocating public resources accordingly.

Break the Chains: Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference

Break the Chains is actively involved in the campaign to equalize federal sentences for cocaine offenses. The disparity in sentencing for federal crack vs powder cocaine offenses has been a major reason for the dramatic increase in the federal prison population and the over representation of African American men. For more information and to register, contact Eileen Miller at 410-837-5882 or [email protected], or see
Thu, 06/05/2008 - 6:00pm - Fri, 06/06/2008 - 5:45pm
One West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 20201
United States

Prisons, Police, Race, and the War on Drugs

Hosted by the NYU Wagner Criminal Justice Student Group, the Students of African Descent Alliance, and the Correctional Association of NY. Join leading academicians, activists, political figures and lawyers in a discussion on a critical, oft neglected, public policy issue of the day: how police, prosecutorial and prison related practices lead to the dramatically disproportionate confinement of poor people of color. With: - Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry, Assemblymember and Chair of the Assembly Committee on Correction. - Kamau Karl Franklin, Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights and co-chair of the National Conference of Black Lawyers. - Robert Gangi, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York. - Dennis Smith, Associate Professor of Public Policy at NYU Wagner. Moderated by: Mary Porter, Lecturer in Public Administration, Assistant Dean at NYU Wagner and former prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. For more information, see
Thu, 04/17/2008 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
295 Lafayette Street (at Houston Ave) Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue -- Puck Building, 2nd Fl.
New York, NY
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School