Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease.
22.09.2011 § Leave a comment
Two of the country’s foremost researchers on race and capital punishment, law professor David Baldus and statistician George Woodworth, along with colleagues in Philadelphia, have conducted a careful analysis of race and the death penalty in Philadelphia which reveals that the odds of receiving a death sentence are nearly four times (3.9) higher if the defendant is black. These results were obtained after analyzing and controlling for case differences such as the severity of the crime and the background of the defendant. The data were subjected to various forms of analysis, but the conclusion was clear: blacks were being sentenced to death far in excess of other defendants for similar crimes.
A second study by Professor Jeffrey Pokorak and researchers at St. Mary’s University Law School in Texas provides part of the explanation for why the application of the death penalty remains racially skewed. Their study found that the key decision makers in death cases around the country are almost exclusively white men. Of the chief District Attorneys in counties using the death penalty in the United States, nearly 98% are white and only 1% are African-American.
These new empirical studies underscore a persistent pattern of racial disparities which has appeared throughout the country over the past twenty years. Examinations of the relationship between race and the death penalty, with varying levels of thoroughness and sophistication, have now been conducted in every major death penalty state. In 96% of these reviews, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. The gravity of the close connection between race and the death penalty is shown when compared to studies in other fields. Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease. The latter evidence has produced enormous changes in law and societal practice, while racism in the death penalty has been largely ignored.
27.08.2011 § Leave a comment
“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with more than a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.
New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.
According to the New York City Department of Corrections’ own website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its ten jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness–not to mention pre-trial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.
We were not able to reach anyone at the NYC DOC for comment–but the New York Times‘s City Room blog reported: “According to the city’s Department of Correction, no hypothetical evacuation plan for the roughly 12,000 inmates that the facility may house on a given day even exists. Contingencies do exist for smaller-scale relocations from one facility to another.”
This is a Prison, Glitter is Not Allowed: Experiences of Trans and Gender Variant People in Pennsylvania’s Prison Systems
01.06.2011 § Leave a comment
From the Hearts on a Wire collective in Philidelphia, a new piece of militant, participatory research about experiences of Trans and Gender Variant people in Philidelphia’s prisons.
Find the PDF here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/56677078/This-is-a-Prison-Glitter-is-Not-Allowed
Young African American women are the fastest growing population of incarcerated young people. This is not an accident.
23.03.2011 § Leave a comment
This world, we must destroy.
Efforts to stop mass incarceration focused on black girls are almost nonexistant in government policy, the media, foundations and academia.
This his also definitely true in radical political activism. We aren’t suprised.
“I’ve been studying this for decades,” said Chesney-Lind. She added, “We have never seen these kind of numbers before. National policies like zero tolerance are responsible for the school to prison pipeline. And a dual justice system that treats white girls differently from black girls is disproportionately impacting African American girls.”…
“The shackles of slavery endured into other eras, including convict leasing systems and chain gangs,” said Prisicilla Ocen, a professor at UCLA’s Critical Race Studies.
“In order to sustain these systems, de-humanizing stereotypes of black women were created to maintain the difference between white and African American women,” she said. “Black girls are still dealing with racial and gendered stereotypes that were used to justify punishment.”
Ocen continued, “These historical stereotypes laid the groundwork for the creation of a dual criminal justice system – one where African American women and girls are treated differently for the same behaviors.”…
Krisberg went on, “Once in the criminal justice system, African American girls are treated with brutality, so much emotional and sexual abuse.”
This can only be explained adequately with a unified theory that locates race and gender as necessary structural social relations, like class, and not as contingent historical add-ons to capital that just happen to be really sticky…