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View Diary: Racism: 78% of Black youth arrested in Oakland never charged (95 comments)

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  •  I can make some guesses (7+ / 0-)

    but really you have to analyze the numbers in greater detail to reach any conclusion.  For example, the article contains no analysis of arrests versus charges over time.  If the number of arrests is constant but the number of charges are going down, it may be that the prosecutor is trying strategies other than pursuing criminal charges.

    When I was a Prosecutor we tried increasingly  to avoid charging those under 18.  Depending on the facts we might try to get someone treatment (if drugs were the issue) or get someone help and condition their participation on not filing charges.

    So there is complexity here that I can't comment on.

    •  Dollars are important because they can be (4+ / 0-)

      numbered. Same for arrests and detentions and charges. BUT the convenient equation of crime with those numbers in the system is false. Nobody tracks the disposition of those preliminary numbers with convictions in a court of law. There are good reasons for that--one of which is that guilty pleas to lesser charges or an admission of behavior that's not criminal at all (obstructing a police officer, e.g.) is undermining the very concept of the law as an instrument of justice. It's an instrument of subordination and what's really detrimental about that, in addition to treating people as less than human, is that the compliant liars and career criminals get off and people who insist on their innocence rot in prison. The innocence project is doing valuable work, but it's because capital cases accumulate a modicum of real evidence that there's even something to clear up in the record. Otherwise, laziness and sloppiness on the part of law enforcement is rampant and they intentionally pervert the system because they haven't done the work. Law enforcement can be cavalier about how they deal with citizens because they don't expect to ever have to account for their actions. Their supervisors will have their backs, reports will get lost and everyone will get along in a soup of guilty associations. The cops are associated by guilt. Everybody's guilty of something and needs supervisors to look the other way.
      They don't know the law because they are not supposed to follow the law; they're supposed to do what their supervisors direct. Doing what they are told is their ticket to absolution and advancement.

    •  One big driver of this is the move toward (4+ / 0-)

      evidence based actions in juvenile courts.  In my N. Cal county the Probation department spent a great deal of time and money analyzing the problems (and I mean a GREAT deal).  The evidence shows that for many kids being diverted out of the system, regardless of whether there was criminal activity, greatly reduced the risk of recidivism.  

      The process, for those unfamiliar with Cal juvenile procedure, is that the cases all start in Probation which has discretion in most instances to decide whether to forward to the DA for possible prosecution or not.  The amount of cases forwarded plummeted in the couple of years after the new analytical tools were instituted.  Gone were the 13 yr old girl scout who forgot her swiss army knife in her backpack, gone were the stealing of a snickers bar by a kid who had no prior contacts with the system.

      Our locked up population decreased so drastically that we were able to put a Boys and Girls club inside the Hall in the closed wing.

      There are great problems that remain, such as the ability of the DA to charge a strike case in Juvie where the defendant does not have the right to a trial, but the culling out of obvious cases has helped greatly.

      75534 4-ever or until dk5

      by NearlyNormal on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 12:27:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So is it that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NearlyNormal, fladem

        cases that are found to be non-sustained actually not a bad thing?  Does that mean that they are not forwarded for prosecution?  If so, then the percentage of black teens arrested for low level incidents is still an issue but the non-sustained is not.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 12:55:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where I was a Prosecutor (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          newfie, NearlyNormal, Be Skeptical

          Ohio - the increase in non-prosecutions was a GOOD thing - it represented law enforcement trying to find another answer.  

          So the arrest record goes away when they turned 18, and they were kept out of the system.

          •  I think the problem behind this report (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NearlyNormal, fladem, Be Skeptical

            beyond the obvious discrepancy in the racial aspect is that the emphasis is being put in the wrong place.  Arrests that do not lead to charges are better than arrests that do lead to charges. But resources geared toward positive interactions with students is far better than disciplinary ones.  UMass had a study where a comparison was made of disciplinary actions as it related to school counselor to student ratios.  Halfing the ratio lead to a significant drop in disciplinary actions.  And that study involved halving a 450:1 ratio not Not 1854:1.  

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 01:52:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It may or may not be a bad thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          newfie, Be Skeptical

          there is not enough info to tell.  On one level its good no matter why they are not sustained because they don't come into the system.  If they are not being sustained because officers are arresting them without good evidence that is a problem.  If the system is weeding out those that did commit a low (and some not so low) level crime, but who fit the criteria that show likely recidivism would increase with further contact with the system and diverting them pre-sytem, then that is very much a good thing.

          The evidence shows, and it takes some courage in both probation and court to act on this, that a kid that is at low risk to re-offend should not be brought into the system even if he fails at the diversion level.  The problem with this for those who have to make the call, is that its a statistical notion, and some will fail and will come back into the system.  If they fail spectacularly the argument will be made that he (and the system is heavily male) should have been punished earlier.  The key is that in the aggregate, we will drive down crime, by driving down recidivism and by not tracking these kids into the criminal system.

          75534 4-ever or until dk5

          by NearlyNormal on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:02:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This comment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        newfie, Be Skeptical

        is better than the diary.  

        I am not sure people outside the system know how much change there has been around this in the last 15 years.  

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