Race and Policing
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The brutal video of police murdering George Floyd has inspired unprecedented civil action and protests against police violence. Among the many signs and chants heard around the nation and the world are calls to defund the police.Some advocate for a complete restructuring of public safety. Others want sharp reductions in police spending with corresponding increases in other public services that support communities harmed by police violence.An examination of government finance data can inform—but in no way settle—larger debates around policing. Government spending on police is not merely a set of numbers but, rather, the culmination of a long history of policy choices, including many rooted in persistent structural racism.And spending is far from the only policing issue affected by structural racism. It's not even the only fiscal issue, as we saw with the excessive fines and forfeitures in Ferguson and increased purchasing of military equipment.There are countless issues, such as punitive policing, that require reforms outside of budgeting.But police spending reflects what communities pay in exchange for public safety—an exchange that does not keep all communities safe. At the least, spending data can help advocates and policymakers understand reforms' fiscal opportunities and parameters.
On January 1st, New York's new bail reform law went into effect. This law, fought for by communities across the state, was designed to reduce the number of people and families harmed by pretrial incarceration, protect the constitutional right to the presumption of innocence, and address the criminalization of poverty and of Black and brown communities.Before the passage of bail reform, New York's fifty-seven counties outside of New York City spent $705.5 million jailing legally innocent people each year.This system of mass pretrial incarceration coerced plea deals and destabilized individuals who were often in dire needof support, not pretrial punishment. By some estimates as many as 84% of people in New York jails had a substance use disorder or mental illness. National surveys show that 20% of people incarcerated in local jails have a "serious mental illness" like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Without bail reform, New York's local jails would have continued to function as warehouses for people failed by social services and social policy, including people struggling with mental health needs, substance use, and homelessness.Bail reform is already working. Each day, there are 6,000 fewer people incarcerated pretrial in New York's local jails.Thousands of people can thus return to their families and receive the treatment and care they need as they await their date in court. With the state budget deadline fast approaching, this is a critical moment for New York's legislature to protect the new law from regressive changes, and instead commit to shifting resources to the services - education, healthcare, mental healthcare, and housing - that keep communities safe and thriving. To do so, we must re-examine the staggering sums counties have historically spent on jailing compared to community-based resources.
This report is a joint effort between the Center for Policing Equity and the Yale Justice Collaboratory. The goal is to highlight the policies that science and experience say have the best chance to make the most progress towards producing public safety systems that are both effective and align with our values. This is not an exhaustive list. But it does represent the policies we believe should lead the charge towards re-imagining public safety.
Police and jails are supposed to promote public safety. Increasingly, however, law enforcement is called upon to respond punitively to medical and economic problems unrelated to public safety issues. As a result, local jails are filled with people who need medical care and social services, many of whom cycle in and out of jail without ever receiving the help they need. Conversations about this problem are becoming more frequent, but until now, these conversations have been missing three fundamental data points: how many people go to jail each year, how many return, and which underlying problems fuel this cycle.In this report, we fill this troubling data gap with a new analysis of a federal survey, finding that at least 4.9 million people are arrested and jailed each year, and at least one in 4 of those individuals are booked into jail more than once during the same year. Our analysis shows that repeated arrests are related to race and poverty, as well as high rates of mental illness and substance use disorders. Ultimately, we find that people who are jailed have much higher rates of social, economic, and health problems that cannot and should not be addressed through incarceration.
This report explores the impact of policing on Bay area communities, highlighting the real emergencies that communities are facing, and exploring what emergency responses systems people are currently using and what is desired by communities.Since 2013, Critical Resistance has been part of a campaign called Stop Urban Shield that is fighting to halt the militarization of policing, emergency preparedness and disaster response. Urban Shield is a regional, national and global weapons expo and SWAT training that takes place in the Bay Area. It brings together law enforcement agencies and first responders from across the country and world – including from the apartheid state of Israel – in order for them to train and skill share on repression tactics, military operations and police-coordinated disaster and emergency response. Urban Shield was created by Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern in 2007, and has been held in Alameda County every year since.
The National Bail Out Collective, a formation of Black organizers committed to building a community-based movement to end pretrial detention, created this toolkit as a resource for other groups interested in using bail outs as a tactic. The collective, which consists of groups in over a dozen states, has bailed out over 200 people since we launched in May 2017 with our Black Mama's Bail Outs.This toolkit provides an overview of the bailout process; answers to frequently asked questions about bail and bail reform; a step by step guide on how to develop a bail out and supportive services plan; communications and fundraising tips; reflections on what happens after you post bail; and resources for those interested in leveraging their bail outs to advocate for the end of money bail. The toolkit can be used as a guide as groups embark on the considerable planning and feasibility work necessary to conduct a bail out in their city.We work in Black communities, often focusing on Black women (cis and trans), because although our communities are disproportionately impacted we are often excluded from conversations about the solutions. As a result the language throughout this toolkit is centered on Black liberation. This is because we believe Black liberation is a prerequisite to the liberation of all people. We recognize that many people who will use this toolkit will not be Black and may decide to expand their bail outs beyond Black communities. We excitedly invite people from every community to learn from our work and disrupt this system that harms us all. We encourage you to tailor the language where necessary.Our bail outs are a key component of our broader strategy to build the power of local organizations so they can end the use of money bail and start to experiment with community based support systems, which will replace cages. Similarly, we hope that you will approach your bail outs as a tactic, rather than the goal, and will leverage them to end money bail and the underlying systems that keep so many in cages. We hope that this toolkit will serve as a useful guide as you begin your bail out journey.
This curriculum is the product of a convening of over 20 black-led base-building organizations who came together to discuss the implications of bail and bail reform on black communities across the country.A subset of convening participants formed a working group that developed this curriculum. We understandending bail as a limited, but necessary step, towards ending the mass criminalization and incarceration ofour communities. Together we seek to ensure that communities most impacted by oppressive policing andincarceration are centered as experts in formulating alternatives to pretrial detention and incarceration.
Police expenditures include spending on police, sheriffs, state highway patrols, and other governmental departments charged with protecting public safety.Corrections expenditures are for the operation, maintenance, and construction of prisons and jails, as well as the activities of probation officers and parole boards.
Far too many students in Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) are being pushed out of school. This is a problemthat is now commonly known as the "school-to-prison pipeline," which occurs when schools rely on punitivediscipline policies to suspend, expel, or refer students to law enforcement. These overly-punitive policies have seriousconsequences. They increase the likelihood of students dropping-out, not graduating, and becoming involvedin the juvenile or criminal justice system. These policies disproportionately impact students of color, students withdisabilities, and LGBTQ and gender non-conforming students. In an effort to begin creating change in Alexandria,we have researched the data and policies in ACPS and written this report, to encourage positive changes thatsupport our youth, rather than criminalize them.This report contains a timeline of our work to implement restorative justice, an analysis of the suspension andreferral to law enforcement data from the 2014-15 school year, and a list of recommendations to end harsh schooldiscipline in ACPS. Out of a sense of urgency for the youth in our community, we call on ACPS to consider the information in this report and fully and immediately commit to proper implementation of restorative justice and an endto the school-to-prison pipeline. We cannot risk the future of our young people while ACPS continues to stall on theimplementation of restorative justice.