Posts Tagged ‘criminal justice’

Seattle Supreme Court Overturns Case in Which Prosecutor Used Racist Remarks

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

(BET) A Seattle man will be re-tried after the Seattle Supreme Court found the prosecutor in the case guilty of “prosecutorial misconduct.”

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court found that James Konat, a King County deputy prosecutor “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” in the 2007 conviction of Kevin L. Monday, Jr., according to the Seattle Times.

Monday was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison for a 2006 gang-related shooting. Seattle police claimed that he fired at least 10 shots at Francisco Roche Green. He was also accused of firing shots at a vehicle, consequently wounding the driver and a passenger.

In questioning the witnesses Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” and questioned about a street “code” which he claimed prevented them from talking to the police. In his closing argument to jurors Konat said, “the code is Black folk don’t testify against Black folk. You don’t snitch to the police.”

Full story…

State NAACP backs CA marijuana legalization initiative. #africanamerican

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

(Los Angeles Times) Saying that prohibition takes a heavy toll on minorities, leaders of the NAACP’s California chapter announced Monday that they are backing passage of a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot.

The war on drugs is a failure and disproportionately targets young men and women of color, particularly African-American males, said Alice Huffman, president of the NAACP’s state conference.

The group cited statistics from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice showing that in 2009, 62% of the state’s marijuana arrests were of nonwhite suspects and that 42% were under 20.

The pattern was consistent in the state’s 25 largest counties, with arrests of African Americans at double, triple and quadruple the rate of whites even though studies show that blacks use marijuana at lower rates than whites, NAACP officials said.

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#Racism common in jury selection. #blacks excluded from death penalty cases.

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

(CNN, Andrea Lyon) Some subjects are just plain hard to talk about. Religion, politics and money — maybe sex, too. But try talking about race and then add the emotional context of a death penalty trial, and no one will talk at all.

If you try to broach the subject during jury selection, asking all the racists to please raise their hands is not an option. We, as a nation, have to find a way to face the dirty secret of criminal justice — that prejudice often carries the day.

The issue of racial disparity in the administration of the death penalty has been a part of modern law. Starting with Furman v. Georgia and continuing on to McCleskey v. Zant, courts have struggled to come to grips with this issue as have those of us defending the most despised amongst us.

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Attorney General Eric Holder has taken important steps to address disparities in the justice system, but there is more he can do.

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

(The Root) To his credit, the nation’s first black U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has not shied away from discussing race and its impact on our criminal justice system. Shortly after he was confirmed, he famously said that ”in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards”–a statement for which he was roundly criticized, but for which he deserved praise.

Holder has done more than just talk about race. He has launched an examination of the criminal justice system, focusing on the effects of race and on ways to rid the system of racial bias.

The pervasive influence of race on the criminal justice system is well-documented and shocking. Earlier this year, in a case that challenged the systematic disenfranchisement of former felons in Washington State, Farrakhan v. Gregoire, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a watershed opinion that recognized ”compelling” evidence of racial bias in the state’s criminal justice system. The court found that, ”in the total population of potential ‘felons’[in Washington State]…, minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained, and ultimately prosecuted.” National statistical data bears that out: In 2007, African Americans represented 13 percent of the general population, but they comprised 39 percent of the nation’s federal prison population.

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Study: #Minority Jurors Still Elusive Down South.

Monday, June 7th, 2010

(JD Journal) A two-year study of jury selections in eight Southern states found the exclusion of blacks and other minorities remains a widespread practice in the region.

The study, conducted by the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative, found racially-biased use of peremptory strikes and illegal racial discrimination was particularly prevalent in jury selection in serious criminal cases and capital cases. EJI found hundreds of people of color called were excluded from jury service after prosecutors asserted pretextual reasons to justify their removal.

“The underrepresenation and exclusion of people of color from juries has seriously undermined the credibility and reliability of the criminal justice system, and there is an urgent need to end this practice,” said Bryan Stevenson, EJI’s Executive Director. “While courts sometimes have attempted to remedy the problem of discriminatory jury selection, in too many cases today we continue to see indifference to racial bias.”

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Prison and Healthcare Crisis Limits Opportunities for People of Color (BlackNews)

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Legal scholars, health-care advocates and public officials participating in the Freedom’s Voice Conference in April depicted a health and prison crisis that is limiting opportunities for people of color and devastating our communities. The three-day conference, which was sponsored by the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Community Voices program, offered recommendations on how to address many of the problems. But the esteemed panelists also sent a clear message that there must be decisive action to reverse public policies sending record numbers of people to prison, leaving those outside prison walls without access to health care and restricting people of color to segregated communities.

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Report: War on drugs targets minorities (UPI)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The so-called war on drugs in the United States disproportionately targets racial minorities in urban neighborhoods, two reports said Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch and the judicial equality advocacy group The Sentencing Project announced the release of two reports Tuesday on drug-related arrests saying the so-called war on drugs “disproportionately targets urban minority neighborhoods.”

The Human Rights Watch report, “Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States,” outlines statistics in 34 states saying more black offenders serve prison sentences than white offenders.

The report says the average across those 34 states found black men are 11.8 times more likely to serve time in prison than white men and black women are 4.8 times as likely to be sent to jail than white women.

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1 in 100 US Adults in Prison, All-time US Record, World’s Highest Rate (Global Intercept)

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

For the first time in the nation’s history, 1 in every 100 adults in the United States is behind bars. Fully 1% of the adult population is in prison. The US incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world, including Communist China, with a population more than 4 times the size. The US Justice Dept. calculates incarceration as measure of the total population; by its standard, 1 in every 130 Americans is in prison, including every man, woman, child and senior citizen.

According to the report form the Pew Center on the States: among certain groups, the numbers are even more alarming: among the Hispanic-American population, 1 in 36 adult men is incarcerated; among adult African Americans, 1 in 15 is in prison, while 1 in 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34 is imprisoned (fully 11% of African American men between 20 and 34).

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