In my experience working with a multitude of anti-racist organizing projects over the years, I frequently found myself participating in various workshops in which participants were asked to reflect on their gender/race/sexuality/class/etc. privilege. These workshops had a bit of a self-help orientation to them: “I am so and so, and I have x privilege.” It was never quite clear what the point of these confessions were.
But is stop-and-frisk just another form of racial profiling? And what's the difference between profiling and racial profiling? Psychologists say that all of us act on stereotypes for different reasons, but the benefits of fighting against making judgments made from stereotypes are worth the effort..
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to address concerns with mandatory minimum prison penalties. The commission action follows a Justice Department policy shift that was announced on Monday.
It's a problem facing many families of prison inmates, who are captive to telephone companies that are often granted virtual monopolies in exchange for paying high fees to the facilities they serve. The fees, often called commissions, can drive the cost of a 15-minute phone call to higher than $17, more than 10 times the average per-minute rate for typical long-distance consumer plans.
Courtroom sketch of Judge Shira Scheindlin. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams) A decision is imminent in New York’s historic stop-and-frisk case, tried for two months in a Manhattan federal courtroom.
Empathy does play a greater role where a judge may have some discretion, in sentencing for example, and often in family law. Yet, even then, one’s empathetic understanding may not trump other factors. I once had to decide whether a woman could move to a distant country with her three kids, leaving the father in New York. Throughout the non-jury trial I could appreciate the wife’s feelings that the man was a rotten husband and only a passable father. I saw through her why it would be good for her to get away, start life anew, have more opportunities. It was what I would have wanted to do in her place. But then the gold standard—the best interest of the children—kicked in and, despite my understanding of her, even my personal opinion, there was no evidence that it was in the best interest of her kids to be cut off from their father and their culture. Empathy placed me in the shoes of each of the family members.
On Friday, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett, found that request out of tune, saying the Facebook post that quoted from Kristofferson’s song, “To Beat the Devil,” failed to justify sealing the public court records.
The for-profit prison industry, which is expanding across the nation, has blunted prison reform, stymied repeal of our draconian drug laws and successfully lobbied for harsher and harsher detention policies.
The battle against Stand Your Ground laws must be “one front in the war against the legitimacy of a criminal justice system that is fundamentally hostile to the Black presence in the United States.” The task requires a mass Movement – one that avoids the clutches of the Black Misleadership Class, which seeks to “divert Black rage down avenues that do not threaten their own relationships with Power.”
Two inmates from Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola testified to what they called “indescribable” heat levels on the death row tiers, during the first day of a federal trial in Baton Rouge on Monday.
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