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Is Today the Beginning of the End of America’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Policies
New York Magazine ^ | 8/12/13

Posted on 08/12/2013 9:24:42 PM PDT by nickcarraway

Fifty years from now, when college students read about the history of America’s criminal-justice system, August 12, 2013 may turn out to be one of those watershed moments: a day when America took a hard look at the human costs of its criminal-justice policies — and began to reverse course.

This morning, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin delivered her decision in Floyd, et. al. vs. the City of New York, in which she blasted the NYPD’s practice of stopping-and-frisking people and ordered the appointment of an independent monitor. Meanwhile, in California, Attorney General Eric Holder announced this afternoon that the Justice Department will be taking a less punitive approach to dealing with drug offenders.

The timing is coincidental — but there’s no doubt that each chips away at America’s longtime love affair with “tough-on-crime” policies, pushing the pendulum back in the other direction and raising questions about what, exactly, these policies have cost us.

In the long-running battle over stop-and-frisk, Scheindlin’s decision is not too surprising to anyone who spent time in her courtroom listening to her lambaste the city’s attorneys during the nine-week Floyd trial. Her decision affirmed what a handful of NYPD whistleblowers have long been saying: that their bosses pushed them so hard to meet quotas (or “performance goals,” in NYPD parlance) that they and their fellow officers felt pressured to make illegal stops — to stop people even when they had no “reasonable suspicion” that the person had committed (or was about to commit) a crime.

As a veteran cop explained it to me, “We can’t just stop everybody. And that’s what they’re teaching the new guys to do: Just stop everybody … Just to get the numbers. That’s it. Doesn’t matter. Just get the numbers.” The number of street stops officers made skyrocketed between 2002 and 2011: from a total of 97,296 stops a year to 685,724. The overwhelming majority of the people stopped were African-American or Latino. And in most cases — nearly 90 percent — the cops didn’t hand out a summons or make an arrest.

The most powerful evidence at the trial may have been the tape recordings made by NYPD whistleblowers Adrian Schoolcraft, Adhyl Polanco, and Pedro Serrano. Each taped their bosses at great risk to their own careers. And, in the end, their efforts paid off. “The three officers’ recordings provide a rare window into how the NYPD’s policies are actually carried out,” Scheindlin wrote in her decision. “I give great weight to the contents of these recordings.” Parsing the exchanges captured on the recordings, she concluded: “The NYPD maintains two different policies related to racial profiling in the practice of stop and frisk: a written policy that prohibits racial profiling and requires reasonable suspicion for a stop — and another, unwritten policy that encourages officers to focus their reasonable-suspicion-based stops on ‘the right people, the right time, the right location.’”

She calls this policy “indirect racial profiling” because, she says, it leads to the “disproportionate stopping of the members of any racial group that is heavily represented in the NYPD’s crime suspect data.” Her order today does not abolish the NYPD’s practice of stop and frisk, but instead appoints an independent monitor to ensure that police officers only make stops that are constitutional.

Meanwhile, at the annual conference of the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department will be changing its approach to dealing with low-level drug offenders, so that fewer of them will be subjected to mandatory-minimum prison sentences.

This idea of punishing drug offenders with mandatory sentences based on the weight of the drugs involved — not whether they were a first-time courier or a major kingpin — started 40 years ago in New York State. On January 3, 1973, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller gave his annual state-of-the-state speech in Albany, he pushed for a new approach to stamping out drugs: life sentences for drug sellers.

His announcement marked a major reversal; at the time, the preferred approach to addressing the drug problem was treatment. Even Rockefeller’s staff was against his tough-on-drugs idea. But Rockefeller pushed ahead — with one eye on the Oval Office — and convinced legislators to pass a slightly less punitive version, featuring mandatory prison sentences of fifteen years to life.

Rockefeller’s idea spread like wildfire through the country: Almost every state and the federal government adopted their own mandatory minimums, helping to fuel a massive prison expansion. Today, the U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate; our jails and prisons hold 2.2 million people.

Four decades after Rockefeller’s speech in Albany, Holder is beginning the process of reckoning with the legacy of locking up so many of our fellow citizens — or, as he put it in his speech today, reckoning with the “vicious cycle of poverty, criminality, and incarceration [that] traps too many Americans,” while admitting that “many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it.”

Both Scheindlin’s decision and Holder’s speech seem to send the same message: Our nation’s myopic approach to crime control — our single-minded obsession with “tough-on-crime” policies — needs to stop. No longer can we afford to ignore the human cost of our own criminal justice system, whether it’s the impact on the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who endured illegal street stops, or all the low-level drug offenders now sitting in prisons with steep sentences.

Today’s low-crime era seems perfectly suited for a new approach to crime control. For years, politicians were loathe to lobby for less punitive crime policies, lest they be labeled “soft on crime.” Today Holder jettisoned the old phrase “tough on crime,” replacing it instead with “smart on crime.” Perhaps this slogan will stick, and instead of fear-driven crime policies, we’ll wind up with a criminal-justice system that is more fair, that no longer robs some citizens of their constitutional rights — or locks them up with unjust sentences — in the name of public safety.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Government
KEYWORDS: profiling; stopandfrisk

1 posted on 08/12/2013 9:24:42 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

And so the perpetual tension continues. I think it’s better this discussion keeps alive even if sometimes it ends up in the wrong place. Because the same discussion can correct it later, as we place trust in the Lord... and that is the key, to really MEAN it again when we say “IN GOD WE TRUST.” It ain’t a pride thing unless of course we mean the elevation of God’s glory, then we can brag every bit as much as we want... on Him, that is.


2 posted on 08/12/2013 9:31:03 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and mean it. See my page.)
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To: nickcarraway

What surprises me is that 90% number. That means 10% of stops resulted in a summons or arrest?.

The question is were they making up stuff, or were they legitimate summons and arrests? Because if they are legitimate, any kind of sting that arrests 1 in 10 seems like to me is a good sting.

If 1 in 10 results in an arrest or summons, is that an unreasonable search and seizure?


3 posted on 08/12/2013 9:31:13 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

“Sting?”

While I frown theologically on stings, because that’s to play Satan (I say let Satan take the heat, don’t volunteer ourselves) I don’t see “Stings” here... color me puzzled?


4 posted on 08/12/2013 9:33:02 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and mean it. See my page.)
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To: nickcarraway

I believe we could do a better job with crime control if we brought back the gallows and “Old Sparky”.

No more 20 year waits for an execution. Get it done within 30 days, but allow clemency in extenuating circumstances.


5 posted on 08/12/2013 9:34:06 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar (Sometimes you need 7+ more ammo. LOTS MORE.)
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To: nickcarraway

One thing, I would like to see, is a limited Federal Big Brother program. Yeah, I said it. Might as well call it what it is.

Limit it to the 4 highest crime rate cities in America. Saturate the city with cameras. Maybe even use a few drones. But dramatically clean up the city’s crime in the course of 1 year.

Simultaneously run stings against the local and state officials and law enforcement. Seriously, if the crime is that bad, what’s the odds that Law Enforcement isn’t corrupt too.

Establish crime benchmarks. If not enough progress has been made, continue the program for 1 more year. Otherwise move on to another high crime city. 2 Years max.

But of course we need to either wait for a new admistration or have multiple redundant controls to keep the current admin from focusing it on tea party members. Probably both.

I would say, make it a state program, but if the state hasn’t deal with the crime by now, then let the Feds do it.


6 posted on 08/12/2013 9:38:31 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: nickcarraway

Taking away our guns. Taking away our right to self defense and going easy on druggies, dealers, rapists, murderers and thieves. This is going to end ugly. Good luck with that America. Elect a bunch of Chicago street thugs, gangstas and crooks and that’s the kind of government you’re going to get.


7 posted on 08/12/2013 9:38:54 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Senator Foghorn says, You should never resist being raped, robbed, beat down or murdered.)
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar

There will not be any easy answer, because as our ability to determine truth improves, it takes longer to pass through the requisite steps. I’m getting more on the side of the abolitionists, with the giant caveat that we need to get closer to God too as we do that. Otherwise all we are doing is juggling the chaos.


8 posted on 08/12/2013 9:43:54 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (The Lion of Judah will roar again if you give him a big hug and mean it. See my page.)
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To: DannyTN

As a radio program host said this morning, over the period in question, they stop 8 million but they catch 700,000+ bad actors.


9 posted on 08/12/2013 9:52:38 PM PDT by Postman (Flies get too litle credit. Boehner gets too much.)
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To: nickcarraway

I would be interested in stopping the crimes of the federal government, such as Fast and Furious, the IRS, the FEC, the FCC.


10 posted on 08/12/2013 9:54:44 PM PDT by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: DannyTN

Personally, I would start with local law enforcement and city leadership. Chances are someone, most likey a Dem Mayor, council member, etc, has told the Chief to stop arresting the feral black youth.


11 posted on 08/12/2013 9:58:21 PM PDT by matt04
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To: DannyTN

You do realize crime has dropped dramatically in the last 25 years?


12 posted on 08/12/2013 9:58:22 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: DannyTN; HiTech RedNeck

I don’t see where there were “sting” operations involved here. As I see it, the police would see a thug looking individual walking down the street. However, other than he looks like a thug, he isn’t drunk or on drugs, he isn’t on a be on the lookout list or suspected of committing a crime, and isn’t causing any problems. But the police stop him, frisk him, and find contraband. It all goes back to probable cause. I suspected that eventually, a judge would call the NYPD on it. Am I wrong here?


13 posted on 08/12/2013 10:00:07 PM PDT by Enterprise ("Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire)
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To: NFHale; Gilbo_3

Great idea disarm the police.

More proof we need the 2nd Amendment and Stand your Ground.


14 posted on 08/12/2013 10:01:12 PM PDT by sickoflibs (To GOP : Any path to US Citizenship IS putting them ahead in line. Stop lying about your position.)
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To: DannyTN

There is no justification for “stop & frisk”; when Rudy Giuliani wanted to clean up NYC, he simply told the cops to enforce even the minor laws. Often the dirtbag you arrested for urinating on the sidewalk turned out to have warrants for more serious crimes outstanding; it was effective, unquestionably legal, and racially neutral.


15 posted on 08/12/2013 11:21:46 PM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: DannyTN
If 1 in 10 results in an arrest or summons, is that an unreasonable search and seizure?

You're just dying to give up your rights aren't you? Read the 4th amendment. There has to be probably cause just to get a warrant, the person and place to be searched must be named and what they are looking for must be named also. Yes, stopping people at random and searching them is a blatant violation of the 4th amendment.

BTW, there is nothing in the constitution that gives LEOs the right to search you, your car or your home or business simply by saying they had probable cause. Probable cause is for getting a warrant, not conduction a search, but we gave up that right many years ago by not fighting that type of BS.

16 posted on 08/13/2013 1:03:01 AM PDT by calex59
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To: Enterprise

>>>>I don’t see where there were “sting” operations involved here. As I see it, the police would see a thug looking individual walking down the street. However, other than he looks like a thug, he isn’t drunk or on drugs, he isn’t on a be on the lookout list or suspected of committing a crime, and isn’t causing any problems. But the police stop him, frisk him, and find contraband. It all goes back to probable cause. I suspected that eventually, a judge would call the NYPD on it. Am I wrong here?>>>

That’s why I never get picked for jury duty. In the case above I don’t care what the perp was caring because I’d say Not Guilty due to no probable cause, and if I could I’d order the state to pay the defense expenses.


17 posted on 08/13/2013 1:23:17 AM PDT by Undecided 2012
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To: Undecided 2012
“Is Today the Beginning of the End of America’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Policies?”............

No, that happened the day Holder got appointed or perhaps earlier when odumbo got elected.

18 posted on 08/13/2013 4:56:43 AM PDT by DaveA37
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To: sickoflibs; Gilbo_3

“Great idea disarm the police.”

The Supreme Court ruled, back in the early 70s, that they have ZERO duty/obligation to protect you anyway. Their guns are to protect their OWN lives while enforcing whatever arbitrary Diktats of Der Staat happen to be in vogue at the moment.


19 posted on 08/13/2013 4:57:38 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By Any Means Necessary.)
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To: nickcarraway

When I think society hits the lowest common denominator (LCM) somehow it goes even lower.


20 posted on 08/13/2013 4:59:21 AM PDT by central_va (I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: NFHale; Gilbo_3
RE :”The Supreme Court ruled, back in the early 70s, that they have ZERO duty/obligation to protect you anyway. Their guns are to protect their OWN lives while enforcing whatever arbitrary Diktats of Der Staat happen to be in vogue at the moment.”

This creates a problem for Bloomy whose justification for gun bans is that it allows him to keep crime low in NYC.

Recall it was mayor Rudy Giuliani who proactively cleaned up NYC which was a cesspool till he took over ~1994.
His methods drove the Sharpton’s nuts. Giuliani took over from Dinkins, Dinkins took over from Koch in 1989 and ran the already dirty City into the ground. Koch became Mayor in 1978.

Rich white lib Bloomy was controlling crime by doing these stop and go searches in high crime areas leading to this resentment by black libs. Bllomy's argument is they keep the criminals honest..

21 posted on 08/13/2013 5:17:01 AM PDT by sickoflibs (To GOP : Any path to US Citizenship IS putting them ahead in line. Stop lying about your position.)
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To: nickcarraway

The best way to reduce crime would be to expand the definitions where citizens can use lethal force- for example, most of these stoners steal to support their drug use. If we were allowed to shoot and kill thieves, there would be both fewer thieves, and fewer stoners. Then the crime rate drops further, as the chance of the deceased becoming recidivists is 0%. Granted, it would not happen- too many state-paid defense attorneys would lose their income stream, and they are too well connected to their legislator buddies who used to be lawyers.


22 posted on 08/13/2013 5:42:57 AM PDT by GenXteacher (You have chosen dishonor to avoid war; you shall have war also.)
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To: nickcarraway

“New York: Muggings Return With A Vengeance”

I predict that headline in 2 Years.

While Stop and Frisk is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, it has also clearly made the streets safe to walk.

Which introduces the age-old problem: How much Freedom are you willing to give up to achieve Security?

Not an easy question to answer, especially if you’ve been mugged.

OBTW - None of the foregoing has anything to do with race. If Stop and Frisk were somehow constitutional, stopping those who fit the profile of crooks may disproportionately (to population) fall on blacks, who commit crime disproportionately (to population). Tough.

Stop and Frisk has repeatedly been shown to be disproportionately affecting WHITES compared to their rate of either victimization or conviction. That just means that whites commit so much less crime that cops Stopping and Frisking them at most any rate is much higher than their proportion of criminal encounters.


23 posted on 08/13/2013 6:46:43 AM PDT by Uncle Miltie (Where's my pressure cooker backpack wmd ricin laced al qaeda terrorist BASSELOPE?)
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To: sickoflibs; Gilbo_3

“...This creates a problem for Bloomy whose justification for gun bans is that it allows him to keep crime low in NYC...”

If people were educated to just how UN-protected they are, Bloomie would be ejected unceremoniously onto his ass.

But hey... sheeple are sheeple. Stupid ass Dems want to live in a place where they can be murdered at will by thugs, well... go on right ahead.

At the end of the day, it’s still a choice. Carry, or don’t.


24 posted on 08/13/2013 7:11:43 AM PDT by NFHale (The Second Amendment - By Any Means Necessary.)
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To: nickcarraway
"You do realize crime has dropped dramatically in the last 25 years?"

Yes, I think that's largely due to security cameras. It's just so much harder to get away with a crime today. Thus repeat offences drop because criminals get locked away.

I was thinking this would be a program for places like Detroit. I'm of the opinion that crime spreads if you don't stop it. People from Detroit move to other cities to escape thuggery, but some take their thuggery with them.

The downsides of such a program are many and include...


25 posted on 08/13/2013 9:26:04 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

Actually, they have decent evidence it’s lead. Childhoos lead exposure.


26 posted on 08/13/2013 9:56:23 AM PDT by nickcarraway
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