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White Privilege and Illicit Drugs

Algernon Austin, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute, explores white privilege in conjunction with the war on drugs against the backdrop of the book Dorm Room Dealers: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class by A. Rafik Mohamed and Erik D. Fritsvold.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/algernon-austin/white-privilege-and-illic_b_804130.html

Prop 19: Last Minute Request

Help us bring Latino voters to the polls in California for Prop 19 - chip in $5.
 

 

Or click here to volunteer to call voters for Prop 19.

Dear friends,

We've received urgent requests from Hispanic community leaders for a Spanish language version of our phone banking tool to help get out the vote for Prop 19, and we need your help.

Polling shows that when Latino voters learn that Prop 19 will save tens of millions of dollars in incarceration costs, those who oppose the measure overwhelmingly become supporters.

But if they don't hear the message, they'll never know.

Can you chip in $5 or more to help us get Latino voters to the polls tomorrow?

If you can't donate, we still need your help.  Thousands of activists have called young California voters for the past month, and their votes are critical to whether Prop 19 will pass or fail.

Or, sign up to make calls yourself to young California voters for Prop 19.

We need your help to pull it off in these final hours.  The entire country is watching what happens in California.

Let's show everyone that the people who want an end marijuana prohibition believe passionately in the cause, and we're willing to fight every step of the way to make it happen.

Thanks for all you do.

Michael Whitney
JustSayNow.com

Contribute to Just Say Now to support marijuana legalization. Click here:

Location: 
CA
United States

Democrats Responsible for Drug War on Black and Latino Men, Ruining Countless Lives (Opinion)

It’s a bit shocking to grasp the role that the Democratic Party, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, have played in undermining the lives of hundreds of thousands of young minority men. In a very hard-hitting op-ed on October 24th, “Smoke and Horrors” New York Times Saturday columnist Charles Blow, citing the work of City University Professor Harry Levine, makes four truly mind-jolting points.
Publication/Source: 
Alternet (CA)
URL: 
http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/10/24/democrats-responsible-for-drug-war-on-black-and-latino-men-ruining-countless-lives/

California Blacks Disproportionately Busted for Marijuana, Report Finds [FEATURE]

In a new report released Friday, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and the California NAACP charged that African-Americans have been disproportionately targeted in low-level marijuana possession arrests. The report, Arresting Blacks for Marijuana Possession in California: Possession Arrests in 25 Cities, 2006-2008, found that despite lower use rates, African-Americans were three, four, six, or even 13 times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than whites.

The report's release is timed to give Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative, a boost in the few remaining days until election day. It was released at a press conference where California NAACP and DPA representatives were joined by Prop 19 campaign head Richard Lee, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) executive director Neill Franklin, Hollywood actor Danny Glover, and former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. 

The report found that in Los Angeles, with 10% of the state's black population, blacks were seven times more likely to get busted than whites. In San Diego, the state's second largest city, blacks were six times more likely to get busted. Ditto for Sacramento. In Torrance, blacks were 13 times more likely to be busted than whites.

"This report documents enormous, widespread race-based disparities in the arrests of nonviolent, low-level marijuana possession offenders," said Stephen Gutwillig, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The context is an enormous increase in the number of arrests for low-level possession in the past 20 years. Arrest rates for all other crimes have plummeted, from rape and murder to all other drug possession crimes, but marijuana possession arrests have tripled since 1990, from around 20,000 then to 61,000 last year. This was made possible by the targeting of communities of color, specifically African-Americans and Latinos, and more specifically, young African-Americans and Latinos."

It's not just that blacks are arrested disproportionately to whites. They are also arrested at rates far exceeding their percentage of the population. In Los Angeles, blacks make up 10% of the population, but 35% of all marijuana possession arrests. In Sacramento, it's 14% and 50%.

"These disparities were built from routine, pervasive, system-wide police practices," said Gutwillig. "This is not the result of a few racist cops; this is the way the system works."

"I don't think there is any question this is a civil rights issue," said California NAACP executive director Alice Huffman. "If you don't believe that, you don't believe in justice in America."

"We're spending billions of dollars each year on the war on drugs," said Dr. Elders. "It's been a war on young black males. Wars are supposed to end sometime. It's time to end this war. Proposition 19 is an opportunity to take drugs out of the hands of the drug cartels and put them where they can be controlled and taxed."

"This is not about a right to get high, it's an issue of a policy that does not work and is damaging to our society and most importantly, specifically damaging to people of color," said LEAP's Neill Franklin. "Marijuana prohibition is the most dysfunctional public policy in this country since slavery. The violence generated in our communities is unbelievable and it's because of the criminal market this policy creates. The lives of young African-Americans are being lost every day, and whether they lose their lives to violence or to a prison sentence, both are devastating," he said.

"This is an opportunity for law enforcement to get it right," said the former Maryland narcotics officer. "We spend a majority of our time dealing with low-level drug offenders, mainly marijuana," Franklin said. "In the 1960s, we solved nine out of 10 murders; now it's six out of 10. When you apprehend a murderer, murders go down. But when you take someone off the streets for selling marijuana, sales don't go down, and the violence increases because people are fighting for market share."

"I want to say publicly that I support Proposition 19," said film star Danny Glover. "The current laws do not work; they have failed us," he said. "We know we are arrested disproportionately. This is a civil rights issue," he maintained.

"I'm not a marijuana smoker, although I have tried it in the past, but I don't want to stand in the way of people who want to use marijuana recreationally," Glover continued. "This is a long battle, and we're on the right side."

"I've always seen cannabis prohibition as causing a war between police and citizens," said Lee. "Police are supposed to serve and protect, not wage war on the populace. We need police back protecting us from real criminals, not ourselves."

The Prop 19 campaign and DPA did it again this week, this time with Latino marijuana possession arrest rates. But it's already clear that racial disparities in the enforcement of California's pot laws exist, and simply decriminalizing marijuana possession, as Gov. Schwarzenegger did last month, will not change anything in that regard, at least not directly. Minority youths can still be hassled, harassed, and searched for an infraction, just as they were for a misdemeanor. It will take legalization to end such practices.

Oakland, CA
United States

Attorney General Holder Says He Will Enforce Marijuana Laws Even If California Votes to Decriminalize, ACLU Says Continued Criminalization of Marijuana Has Disproportionate Impact on Communities of Color (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 16, 2010

CONTACT: Will Matthews, ACLU national, (646) 233-9572 or (212) 549-2582; media@aclu.org; Rebecca Farmer, ACLU of Northern California, (415) 269-6275; rfarmer@aclunc.org

SAN FRANCISCO – In a letter made public late Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice will “vigorously enforce” federal laws against marijuana in California, even if the state’s voters next month approve Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would decriminalize marijuana in the state. The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for their personal use and allow cities and counties to regulate and tax commercial sales. Holder’s letter was sent to nine former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The criminalization of low-level marijuana possession has disproportionately impacted communities of color, has no impact on public safety and serves to divert criminal justice resources from the prosecution of more serious crimes.

In a letter sent to Holder several weeks ago, the former DEA chiefs urged him to take legal action challenging Proposition 19 in court if it passes and to make clear that it would be void even if passed because federal law would preempt it under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S Constitution. Holder’s letter this week was notably silent on both issues.

The following can be attributed to Allen Hopper, Police Practices Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California:

“Attorney General Holder’s silence speaks volumes. He does not say that the Department of Justice will seek an injunction against Proposition 19 being enacted because there is no constitutional basis for doing so. A bedrock constitutional principle underlying our federalist system of government prohibits the federal government from telling the state of California what laws it can and cannot pass or forcing the state to expend its resources prosecuting low-level marijuana offenses. It is deeply disappointing that the Obama administration would seek to impede a law that would go great lengths toward dismantling one of the defining injustices of our nation’s failed “war on drugs”: the fact that people of color, and especially youth of color, are disproportionately arrested for low-level marijuana possession. Such arrests do not increase public safety, and merely serve to divert already scarce criminal justice resources from the investigation of more serious crimes.”

Location: 
CA
United States

LULAC of California Endorses Prop 19 Marijuana Inititiative

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of California has endorsed Proposition 19, California's tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative. LULAC is one of the most prominent organizations representing Latino voters. The group announced Friday it is supporting the initiative.

"The current prohibition laws are not working for Latinos, nor for society as a whole," said Argentina Dávila-Luévano, California LULAC State Director. "Far too many of our brothers and sisters are getting caught in the cross-fire of gang wars here in California and the cartel wars south of our border.  It's time to end prohibition, put violent, organized criminals out of business and bring marijuana under the control of the law."

Proposition 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults over 21 and allow them to grow their own in a space of up to 25 square feet and possess the harvest. It would also allow counties and municipalities to permit, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana sales and cultivation.

In a June report, the Drug Policy Alliance found that while blacks and Latinos made up 44% of the state's population, they accounted for 56% of pot possession arrests. The report concentrated on African-Americans because the FBI's Uniform Crime Report data on which it was based does not recognize Latino as a racial category, instead lumping Latinos in with whites. Still the language of the report applies to Latinos as well.

Calling racially disproportionate marijuana arrests "a system-wide phenomenon," the report explained why: "Police departments deploy most patrol and narcotics police to certain neighborhoods, usually designated 'high crime,'" the authors wrote. "These are disproportionately low-income, and disproportionately African-American and Latino neighborhoods. It is in these neighborhoods where the police make most patrols, and where they stop and search the most vehicles and individuals, looking for 'contraband' of any type in order to make an arrest. The item that young people in any neighborhood are most likely to possess, which can get them arrested, is a small amount of marijuana. In short, the arrests are racially-biased mainly because the police are systematically 'fishing' for arrests in only some neighborhoods, and methodically searching only some 'fish.' This produces what has been termed "racism without racists.'"

It's not just the arrests, said LULAC board member Angel Luévano. "In these tough economic times we must find ways to provide new jobs for our people and prosperity in our communities. Supporting Prop 19 will put more Latinos to work and generate cash for our state's budget," she said. "It's our neighborhoods and our families that suffer the most from widespread and ever-increasing unemployment and budget cutbacks for schools and public safety programs."

LULAC of California is just the latest in an ever-growing list of Prop 19 endorsers, including the National Black Police Association, the NAACP of California, and the Latino Voters League. To see them all, click here.

CA
United States

Which Way on Election Day? Pollsters Analyze Prop 19 and Its Chances [FEATURE]

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/yeson19button.jpg
four weeks to go!
California's Proposition 19, the tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative, is certainly the most talked about ballot measure in the land this year. It is just as certainly the most polled of any initiative this year.

No fewer than a baker's dozen polls have surveyed Golden State voters since May of this year, and at least one more will appear the weekend before election day. The average for all the polls so far has Prop 19 winning 47.4%, with 43.2% opposed and 9.4% undecided.

The numbers would have been better for Prop 19 except for Monday's Reuter/Ipsos poll, which bucked the trend to show Prop 19 losing by 10 points. It is one of only three polls that show the measure losing; one was a Field Poll in July and the other was another Reuters/Ipsos poll in June.

Here are the results of the 13 polls, beginning with the most recent:
 

DatePollSupportOppose
10/04/10Reuters/Ipsos43.0%53.0%
10/03/10Public Policy Institute of California52.0%41.0%
09/21/10SurveyUSA47.0%42.0%
09/21/10Field Poll49.0%42.0%
09/16/10PPP (D)47.0%38.0%
09/01/10SurveyUSA47.0%43.0%
08/11/10SurveyUSA50.0%40.0%
07/25/10PPP (D)52.0%36.0%
07/11/10SurveyUSA50.0%40.0%
07/05/10Field Poll44.0%48.0%
06/27/10Reuters/Ipsos48.0%50.0%
05/26/10Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D)49.0%41.0%
05/16/10Public Policy Institute of California49.0%48.0%

While support for Prop 19 has been nearly unchanged in the last six months, as this Talking Points Memo graph demonstrates, opposition has been declining and the gap between yes and no votes is growing--except in Monday's Reuters/Ipsis poll.

"What is remarkable is that the polls agree so closely," said Jay Leve, CEO of SurveyUSA. "Initiatives are among the most difficult things for pollsters to poll, because many of them are about arcane things that nobody knows about, like 30-year bond issues, so the polls can be all over the place. But in this one, the issue is pretty clear, and that's reflected in the agreement among the polls."

"Our surveys get more accurate the closer we get to election Day," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which had Prop 19 trailing by four points in July, but leading by seven in September. "In our second survey, we were able to read voters the actual ballot question," he noted.

Field will be taking one more poll before the election, DiCamillo said. "We will release our final poll the weekend before the election," he announced. "It will be much more insightful."

But with less than a month to go, things are looking pretty good for Prop 19. Liberals, Democrats, and young voters consistently showed strong support for Prop 19 across all the polls, suggesting, somewhat paradoxically, that voters motivated by support for Prop 19 could help the campaigns of Democrats gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Sen. Barbara Boxer, both of whom have come out in opposition to legalization. Likewise, if surging Brown and Boxer campaigns bring out Democratic and liberal voters, they are going to be likely to vote for Prop 19 despite the positions of their gubernatorial and senatorial candidates.

But Republicans, who oppose Prop 19 by margins of 2-1, are also counting on a massive turnout. If the primary is a reliable indicator, they could see just that. In 2008, Democrats made up 42% of the electorate and Republicans just 30%, but Republican enthusiasm this year could close that gap. In the primaries, where only 33% of the electorate voted, 44% of Republicans did, while only 32% of Democrats did. A strong GOP turnout combined with weak turnout among Democrats could spell doom for the measure.

If polling for some groups has been consistent, that hasn't been the case for others, especially black voters. For example, at one point, the Field Poll had Prop 19 losing by 12 points among black voters, while just weeks later Public Policy Polling had it up by 36 points. Black voters only account for 6% of the state's electorate, so the results may suffer from too small a sample size.

Pollster Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com had another possible explanation, one he called the "Broadus Effect," after one Calvin Broadus -- better known as the rapper and major pot aficionado, Snoop Dog. It's a variation on the "Bradley Effect," named for former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost a mayoral race despite leading in the polls before election time.

The "Bradley Effect" posits that polls can be skewed by respondents who reply with what they think are the politically correct answers, rather than what they really think. Silver noted that automated robo-phone polls were showing higher support among blacks than polls done with human poll-takers.

"This might also explain why the split is larger among black and Hispanic voters," Silver wrote. "Marijuana usage is almost certainly more stigmatized when associated with minorities, and drug possession arrests occur much more frequently in minority communities. This is in spite of the fact that rates of marijuana consumption are only a smidgen higher among blacks than among whites, and are somewhat lower among Hispanics."

Pollsters are congenitally cautious about making predictions on actual election results, but both DiCamillo and Leve made heavily hedged predictions. "Usually, the burden of proof is on the proposition," said DiCamillo. "It's always on the yes side to make its case. In this case, there is a lead, but it's not quite at 50% plus one. Most initiatives do get a few percentage points out of the undecideds, so you'd expect this one to be favored for passage, but it's not a slam dunk."

Undecideds would have to break dramatically toward a no vote for the initiative to lose if the poll average today holds until Election Day. With Prop 19 at nearly 48% and undecideds at just under 10%, it would need to pick up just better than one out of five of those voters to get over the top.

And DiCamillo says Prop 19's prospects are good, barring some sort of October surprise. "If somebody came in and started advertising heavily against it, that could change things," he warned. So far, there's been no sign of that, but there is still time for a late TV ad campaign.

SurveyUSA's Leve was only a bit more definitive. "That it's maintaining a 10-point lead is good for the initiative, but that it's having trouble getting that 50% plus one is not," said Leve. "It's sort of a glass half full thing. If I was in Las Vegas and I was a betting man, I'd bet on it to win," said Leve. "But I'd only bet money I could afford to lose."

With less than a month out Prop 19 is leading by an average of more than four points. A historic victory for marijuana legalization may be coming into view, but Election Day will be a nailbiter, and its going to depend on turnout and those undecideds.

CA
United States

How the Drug War Has Subjugated Poor People of Color and Nullified the Fourth Amendment (Opinion)

Michelle Alexander, a longtime civil rights advocate, litigator, and author of 'The New Jim Crow', goes where mainstream journalists fear to tread. She explains how mass incarceration in the United States has emerged as a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control -- and how those who turn a blind eye to the problem share in the blame.
Publication/Source: 
Nieman Watchdog (MA)
URL: 
http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00486

Race & Justice News: Segregation Behind Prison Bars

 

 

 

In This Issue:

  • Feature Story » GO
  • Putting Faces on Justice » GO
  • Segregation Behind Prison Bars  » GO
  • Upcoming Events » GO



    Search our Clearinghouse of over 450 books, articles, and reports on racial disparity in the criminal justice system.

»» CONTRIBUTE !


Upcoming Events


Facing Race
"Define Justice and Make Change"
Chicago, IL, September 23-25, 2010

The Facing Race conference will include discussions of hot-button race issues while offering models for change.  It will serve as a focal point for organizations and individuals committed to crafting innovative strategies for changing policy and shaping culture to advance real racial justice. 

Symposium on Crime and Justice
"The Past and Future of Empirical Sentencing Research"
Albany, NY, September 23-24, 2010


The symposium is based on the premise that new advances in sentencing research will come in part from engaging with other disciplines that focus on sentencing issues, and engaging with ongoing public policy issues like prison overcrowding and risk assessment. The main topics will be the role of race in sentencing outcomes, discretion and decision making, managing the criminal justice population, and risk assessment in the sentencing process.

Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Justice Research and Statistics Association 2010 National Conference
"Using Statistics and "Research to Improve Justice Policies and Practices"
Portland, Maine, October 28-29, 2010

The program includes more than 20 panel sessions on topics, including, corrections, domestic violence, human trafficking, racial disparity, reentry, research using national incident based reporting system (NIBRS) data, sentencing, substance abuse, tribal crime data, and victimization, as well as plenary discussions on current justice issues. There will also be skill building seminars (October 26th, 27th, and 30th) on cost-benefit analysis, evaluation methods, and evidence-based programs and practices. 

Contact Us

Do you have a contribution or idea for Race & Justice News? Send an email to The Sentencing Project's research analyst, Valerie Wright.

» CONTACT

 

The Sentencing Project
1705 DeSales Street, NW
8th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036

 

September 1, 2010

Race & Justice News

"The biggest crime in the U.S. criminal justice system is that it is a race-based institution where African-Americans are directly targeted and punished in a much more aggressive way than white people.  Saying the U.S. criminal justice system is racist may be politically controversial in some circles. But the facts are overwhelming. No real debate about that."
-
- Dr. Nancy Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Critical Studies of Race/Ethnicity Program at Saint Catherine University

FEATURED STORY

RACIAL PROFILING PART OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN BROOKLYN

Allegations of racial profiling have become common in many predominantly black neighborhoods across the country. The New York Times recently reviewed police data provided by the New York Police Department, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the New York Civil Liberties Union on police stops and found that the police made nearly 52,000 stops in an eight-block radius of Brownsville, Brooklyn between January 2006 and March 2010. Overall, 88% of individuals stopped were black or Hispanic. Despite the large number of stops only 1% yielded an arrest over a four-year period. Typically, squad cars with flashing lights cruise along the main avenues and officers use their controversial "Stop, Question, and Frisk" tactic on residents.  The encounters are so frequent that they amount to nearly one stop per year for the 14,000 residents over the four-year period.

The Times reports that if police think someone is carrying a weapon or entering a building without a key it is common for them to ask for identification and check to see if the individual has any warrants. In many encounters with police, residents were told that they fit the description of a suspect. However, the data show that less than 9% of stops were made based on "fit description." More often than not, the police listed "furtive movement," a vague category that equates to "other" as the grounds for the stop. This stop-and-frisk strategy has come under intense scrutiny and the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed lawsuits challenging the NYPD's current practices.  Click here to read more.

PUTTING FACES ON JUSTICE

VOICES FROM BROOKLYN

Watch and listen to the residents from a public housing community in Brownsville, Brooklyn speak for themselves about how they believe they have been unfairly targeted by police stop-and-frisk tactics. One young man states "If you see cops, they automatically search you." Several other residents say they feel "belittled," "violated" and "degraded" as a result of their contact with police.

SEGREGATION BEHIND PRISON BARS

INMATES STILL HOUSED BY RACE AFTER SUPREME COURT RULING

In a 5-3 decision reached in 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that prison officials in California could not rely solely on racial classification when assigning inmate housing.  Historically, prison officials in the state have relied on race to separate male inmates. Five years after the ruling, approximately 165,000 inmates in California are still housed by race and critics argue that the state is not responding quickly enough to the ruling. Part of the problem is that the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not keep a record of integrated cells and therefore does not know how much change has occurred. In addition, only four of California's 30 prisons have implemented guidelines that consider additional factors such as gang affiliation and offense committed in determining housing location. 

One prison spokesman, Lt. Anthony Gentile, asserted that "These boundaries are determined by the inmate population." Another spokeswoman, Terry Thornton, emphasizes that there is no deadline for ending segregation by race in prisons and such changes should be implemented slowly. In addition, she points out that,  "The deficit-ridden state also has no money for additional training needed for prison staffers to learn the new ways to assign cellmates." Click here to read more.   

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The Sentencing Project is a national, nonprofit organization engaged in research and advocacy for criminal justice reform.

  

DEA Seeks Ebonics Translators to Decipher Black Peoples' Phone Conversations

Ever since NAACP endorsed marijuana legalization in California, there's been a raging debate over whether the drug war targets black communities. Looks like the DEA just settled it.

ATLANTA  — Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Monday. [AP]

But don't get the wrong idea. This has nothing to do with the drug war being racist. They just need expert testimony to help win drug cases:

"You can maybe get a general idea of what they're saying, but you have to understand that this has to hold up in court," he said. "You need someone to say, 'I know what they mean when they say 'ballin' or 'pinching pennies.'"

Wait, is that drug slang? As dumb as all of this sounds, I'm beginning to envision a very real risk of the DEA bringing some jackass into court to randomly redefine words and incriminate people who could've been talking about anything. If they start asking for search warrants on the grounds that 'pinching pennies' means laundering money, that's a total nightmare and it's exactly the kind of crap we should probably expect from this.

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