Connect with us

Crime

California Ends Mandatory Minimums for Non-Violent Drug Offenses, Ending Archaic War on Drugs Era Policy

The bill, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo of Los Angeles, was backed by a coalition of state and national groups, including the California Public Defenders Association, Drug Policy Alliance, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and a range of drug treatment professional.

Published

on

An injectable drug is loaded into a syringe while prescription medication is strewn about haphazardly.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Tuesday to end mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses, laying to rest an archaic vestige of the War on Drugs and “tough-on-crime” policy era in California and acting on the recommendations of a state commission created to suggest changes to California’s criminal justice system.

SB7 ends mandatory minimum sentencing for non-violent drug offenses, giving judges the discretion to assign alternative consequences, such as probation, treatment, or rehabilitative programs, where determined appropriate. Current law prohibits judges from doing so even for drug offenses involving marijuana, which the state has legalized for recreational use and licensed sale.

Such mandated sentencing, implemented in the late 1980s at the height of the War on Drugs, has been criticized for its role in mass incarceration and, in recent years, critics have pointed out that the laws reflect the difference in the government’s approach to the crack cocaine epidemic, which disproportionately impacted African Americans, and the opioid addiction crisis, which has heavily impacted white Americans. Some other states have already repealed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

The bill, authored by state Senator Scott Wiener of San Francisco and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo of Los Angeles, was backed by a coalition of state and national groups, including the California Public Defenders Association, Drug Policy Alliance, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and a range of drug treatment professional.

“Our prisons and jails are filled with people — particularly from communities of color — who have committed low-level, nonviolent drug offenses and who would be much better served by non-carceral options like probation, rehabilitation and treatment,” Weiner said in a written statement after Newsom’s signing. “[SB7] is an important measure that will help end California’s system of mass incarceration.”

The Committee on Revising the Penal Code, a committee established in 2019 to recommend changes to California’s criminal laws, recommended ending mandatory minimums in California in its first annual report in 2020. “Aspects of California’s criminal legal system are undeniably broken,” the report stated at the time. “The current system has racial inequity at its core,” and “people of color are disproportionately punished under state laws.”

Ending mandatory minimums was just one of 10 recommendations made by the committee. Others included establishing a process for reviewing the sentences of people already sentenced under unduly harsh sentencing laws, eliminating incarceration for certain traffic offenses, and requiring that short prison sentences be served in county jail instead of prison.

Legislators are considering some of the committee’s other recommendations.

    This story was written using information from the Drug Policy Alliance and the Committee on Revising the Penal Code.

Bay Area

Report Reveals California Cops Explicit Bias against African Americans

While the data show that most people consent to a search when asked by an officer, research from the report reflects that this “consent” is not necessarily voluntary because of the inherent power inequality between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public. 

Published

on

The Board’s analyses reveal significant disparities that warrant further examination of law enforcement practices. 
The Board’s analyses reveal significant disparities that warrant further examination of law enforcement practices. 

By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire

A new report has revealed that California law enforcement officers searched, detained on the curb or in a patrol car, handcuffed, and removed from vehicles more individuals perceived as Black than individuals perceived as white, even though they stopped more than double the number of individuals perceived as white than individuals perceived as Black.

California’s Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board’s report gathered information from 18 law enforcement agencies.

The data revealed that officers stopped 2.9 million individuals in 2020. Most were African Americans and members of the LGBTQ community.

The agency said that the data included what officers “perceived” to be the race, ethnicity, gender, and disability status of people they stopped, even if the perception was different from how the person identified.

According to the data, authorities search African Americans 2.4 times more than whites and disproportionately more than other racial and ethnic groups.

It also found that individuals officers perceived as transgender women were 2.5 times more likely to be searched than women who appeared cisgender.

Data for the report came from the state’s most important law enforcement agencies, like the California Highway Patrol.

However, the highway patrol didn’t include data analyzing stops based on gender identity.

All agencies must report the data in 2023.

“The data in this report will be used by our profession to evaluate our practices as we continue to strive for police services that are aligned with our communities’ expectations of service,” Chief David Swing, co-chair of the Board and past president of the California Police Chiefs Association, said in a statement.

The report further showed that Black and Hispanic individuals were more likely to have force used against them compared to white individuals, while Asian and other individuals were less likely.

Specifically, the odds of having force used during a stop were 1.32 times and 1.16 times as high for Black and Hispanic individuals, respectively.

Asian and other individuals whom officers stopped had lower odds of having force used against them (0.80 and 0.82, respectively) relative to the odds for those perceived as white.

Search discovery rate analyses showed that, when officers searched individuals, all races, or ethnic groups of color, except for Asian and Middle Eastern/South Asian individuals, had higher search rates despite having lower rates of discovering contraband than individuals perceived as white.

Furthermore, a search and discovery rate analysis show that officers searched people perceived to have a mental health disability 4.8 times more often and people perceived to have other types of disabilities 2.7 times more often than people perceived to have no disability.

Still, they discovered contraband or evidence at a lower rate during stops and searches of people with disabilities.

Officers used force against individuals perceived to have mental health disabilities at 5.2 times the rate at which they used force against individuals they perceived to have no disabilities.

The data show that Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals are asked for consent to search at higher rates than white individuals.

Officers searched Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and multiracial individuals at higher rates for consent-only searches than all other racial/ethnic groups.

These consent-only searches resulted in lower rates of discovery of contraband (8.5%, 11.3%, and 13.0%, respectively) than searches of all other racial and ethnic groups.

The reason for the stop was a traffic violation in more than half of the stops where officers conducted a consent-only search (consent being the only reason for the search) of Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Middle Eastern/South Asian individuals.

On the other hand, less than 30% of the consent-only searches of white people happened during traffic stops.

The people who wrote the report said that searches based on consent alone lead to fewer discoveries than searches based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

With consent-only searches, the rate of finding something was 9.2 percentage points lower for Black people than for white people.

“Given the disparities in the data on consent searches, the board questions whether consent searches are truly voluntary,” the authors wrote.

While the data show that most people consent to a search when asked by an officer, research from the report reflects that this “consent” is not necessarily voluntary because of the inherent power inequality between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public.

The research shows that this natural power imbalance is evident in vulnerable groups, such as people with mental health problems or young people, who may be more likely to give in to authority.

“Indeed,” the authors wrote, “RIPA data reflects that for both people with mental health disabilities and youth, a larger proportion of their stops that began as consensual encounters resulted in searches, as compared to people without mental health disabilities or adults.”

Board members said they carefully looked at the data about people who were stopped and searched because of their status as people under supervision.

The Board’s analyses reveal significant disparities that warrant further examination of law enforcement practices.

For example, officers performed supervision-only searches – where supervision status is the only basis for the search – of individuals perceived as Black at 2.8 times the rate at which they performed supervision-only searches of individuals they perceived as white.

Similarly, officers also performed supervision plus searches – where the officer had some other basis to search the person – of Black individuals at 3.3 times the rate they performed supervision plus searches of white individuals.

The rates of discovering contraband for supervision-only searches were lower for all racial/ethnic groups than white individuals; Black individuals had the most considerable difference in their discovery rate (-11.4 percentage points) compared to whites.

Officers also reported a higher proportion of supervision-only searches during stops for traffic violations (46.9%) than during reasonable suspicion stops (24.6%).

“These were just a few of the many disparities discussed in the report,” board members noted.

“Given the large disparities observed, the Board reviewed efforts by various law enforcement agencies to limit inquiries into supervision status as well as stops and searches on the basis of supervision status.

“The RIPA data further indicates that the practice of conducting supervision-only searches shows racial disparities that result in low yield rates of contraband or evidence.”

Continue Reading

Activism

Study Reveals Crisis in New Recruit Police Training Across America

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The report contended that, far too often, police recruits are trained as warriors, not as guardians and partners intended for civil communities. To effect change, new officers should receive new and adequate instruction sensitive to the communities they serve, researchers wrote. “The current state of recruit training demands that we rethink – and remake – the system for how new police officers is trained,” the researchers argued.

Published

on

Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.
Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A comprehensive new report asserted that American authorities have traditionally trained police officers on the cheap, noting that more than 71% of agencies devote less than 5% of their total budget to recruit training.

Issued by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the report found that nearly half of the agencies responding to the survey agreed that spending on recruit training had increased over the past five years.

However, that was before police budgets faced the dual challenges of cuts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and calls to “defund” the police.

The 84-page exposition noted that investments in training could be stalled or reduced at the very time they need to increase to bring about changes required in American policing.

Researchers found that in many jurisdictions, “the goal seems to be moving as many recruits as possible through academy training as fast as possible and at the lowest possible cost.”

They argued that this approach had been driven partly by the desire to quickly get more officers on the street – a challenge that became particularly acute as officer hirings declined and retirements and resignations increased because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as homicides and other violent crimes surged.

“Besides recruiting and hiring, there is perhaps no activity that is more crucial to the success of police departments and sheriffs’ offices than how they train recruits,” researchers wrote.

“Recruit training is where new officers acquire the basic knowledge and skills to do their jobs. It’s where they learn the right way to do things and have an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them, without the serious consequences of making those mistakes in the field.”

They continued:

“It is where new officers acquire the foundation of technical know-how that will stay with them throughout their careers. But recruit training is about more than just technical instruction.

“Recruit training is where prospective officers are introduced to the concept of public safety and public service. The training academy is where police agencies can articulate their philosophy and vision and begin to instill their core values.

“Finally, recruit training is where agencies build and reinforce their culture through the next group of frontline employees.”

While policing has changed in many respects throughout the years, officers struggle with challenges on several fronts, including dealing with individuals in crisis.

The report contended that, far too often, police recruits are trained as warriors, not as guardians and partners intended for civil communities.

To effect change, new officers should receive new and adequate instruction sensitive to the communities they serve, researchers wrote.

“The current state of recruit training demands that we rethink – and remake – the system for how new police officers is trained,” the researchers argued.

“We need national consensus and national standards on what the training contains, how it is delivered, and by whom.

“This report may present a grim picture of the current state of recruit training, but it also puts forth a series of principles that can help guide the transformation of training to meet the challenges of policing for today and tomorrow.”

Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the PERF, said one could ascertain much about a police training academy from the moment an individual walks in the door and encounter a group of recruits.

“If the recruits immediately back up against the nearest wall, look straight ahead, and bark out in unison, ‘Good morning, ma’am!” or “Good afternoon, sir!” you pretty much know the culture and operating philosophy of that academy,” Wexler stated.

“If, on the other hand, the recruits pause, look you in the eye, and offer a more conversational, “Good morning, sir” or “How are you today, ma’am,” that tells you something else.

“Academies have traditionally followed a paramilitary, boot camp-like model that emphasizes discipline, deportment, following orders, and a strict hierarchy where recruits are often on the lowest rung.

Wexler continued:

“Discipline and following the chain of command are certainly important and necessary aspects of police training and operations. But when those elements become so pervasive that they overshadow almost everything else, it can undermine the academy’s mission, which is to prepare new police officers to serve and protect their communities with compassion and humanity.”

Researchers concluded the report by noting that American policing needs to re-imagine and retool recruit training.

They recommended that officials rethink how academies are operated and staffed, what the recruit curriculum contains, and how the training is delivered and by whom.

They also suggested authorities rethink how to use reality-based scenario training more broadly and effectively and how recruit training integrates with field training once recruits leave the academy.

“Re-imagining policing begins with tackling how police officers are taught. This report is a blueprint for fundamentally rethinking the current way we train new police officers – for dismantling the existing model and building a new approach,” Wexler asserted.

“The goals are ambitious and far-reaching. But we hope that if police agencies can attract those who possess the ‘right stuff,’ we can provide them with the kind of training that will take us into the future guided by a new way of thinking.”

Continue Reading

Black History

White Teacher Fired After Telling Students His Race Was ‘Superior’

In the video, the unidentified white middle school teacher was captured saying, “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.” It’s unclear what led to the controversial conversation inside a classroom at Bohls Middle School.

Published

on

In the video, the unidentified white middle school teacher was captured saying, “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.”
In the video, the unidentified white middle school teacher was captured saying, “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.”

By Defender News Service

A teacher in the Pflugerville Independent School District which is located in Austin, Texas, is no longer employed by the district after a video surfaced of him saying he believes white people are “the superior” race.

In the video, the unidentified white middle school teacher was captured saying, “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.”

It’s unclear what led to the controversial conversation inside a classroom at Bohls Middle School.

Rapper Southside’s son is in that class and they put the video on social media, which quickly went viral. The video shows the students’ quick reaction to the statement, which prompted one student to ask, “So white is better than all?”

The teacher then asks the students to let him finish speaking before adding, “I think everybody thinks [that] they’re just not honest about it.”

Several students then appear to confront the teacher about his bold claim, asking him if he just openly admitted to being racist.

“I think everybody is a racist at that level,” the teacher responded.

When asked a second time if he just said he is racist, the teacher said, “I did. I did. If I’m going to be honest with you.”

In a statement released on Nov. 14, Pflugerville ISD Superintendent Dr. Douglas Killian said that the teacher “is no longer employed” by the district and that the district “is actively looking for a replacement.”

Killian acknowledged that the incident “has prompted local and national media attention” and issued an apology to “any parents whose students have been included in the video without their knowledge.”

The full statement from Dr. Killian is below:

“Last Friday, Nov. 11, Pflugerville ISD officials were made aware of an inappropriate conversation a teacher at Bohls Middle School had with students during an advisory class. As of Monday morning, Nov. 14, the teacher in question is no longer employed by Pflugerville ISD and we are actively looking for a replacement.

In addition to providing this video to our administrators, the video was shared on social media by some in the class and has prompted local and national media attention. We apologize to any parents whose students have been included in the video without their knowledge.

We want to reiterate that this conversation does not align with our core beliefs and is not a reflection of our district or our culture at Bohls Middle School. Pflugerville ISD and Bohls MS staff work together to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our students. The advisory discussion was inappropriate, inaccurate, and unacceptable; and this type of interaction will not be tolerated in any PfISD schools.

We apologize to our students and families at Bohls Middle School for the undue stress or concern this has caused. We have counselors and administrators available for any of our students and families who want to discuss this situation further.

We always do our best to ensure the safety of all students; we encourage them to be self-advocates and let an adult know when something is wrong, as they did in this situation. If you see something, say something.

As always, we appreciate the support of our Bohls Middle School families and entire PfISD community.

We always do our best to ensure the safety of all students; we encourage them to be self-advocates and let an adult know when something is wrong, as they did in this situation; this could be to a parent, a teacher, or a counselor. If you see something, say something. We apologize for any undue stress or concern this has caused. As always, we appreciate the support of our families and community.

This article originally appeared in The Houston Defender.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending