Race and Policing
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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.
The use of harsh discipline in elementary and high schools – suspensions and expulsions – has skyrocketed since the mid-1990s. More than 3 million children per year are suspended from school and an additional 100,000 are expelled. Over the last several years, however, there has been growing awareness that excluding young people from school has devastating effects that include increased student dropout/pushout rates, decreased graduation rates, and increased youth involvement in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.This report investigates how colleges are using high school disciplinary information in the admissions process and how high schools are responding to requests for such information about their students. We frame our fndings in the context of the increased criminalization of normative adolescent behavior and the disparate impact of suspensions and expulsions on students of color and students with disabilities. Efforts to improve access to education for young people from low income communities of color and frst-generation college students are undermined by policies that includehigh school disciplinary information in admissions decision making. Instead of promoting campus safety, excluding students with past disciplinary records is likely to decrease public safety in society at large by denying opportunities for higher education to otherwise qualifed applicants.