Archive for the ‘ Incarceration ’ Category

Security cameras vs. the Miami Gardens Police Department

Ravaged by drug crimes and gang activity, Miami Gardens finally found some statistical relief the last couple of years in overall crime only to be overshadowed by climbing homicide rates. The Florida city is in dire need of trusted cooperation between law enforcement and the community.

However, the community is not only being short-changed by the efforts of the Miami Gardens Police Department, their rights are being violated in the process. The infringement has been so drastic as to prompt shopkeeper Alex Saleh to purchase and install 15 security cameras to surveil and document police activity at his store. One of his employees, Earl Sampson, has been arrested countless times for trespassing at the store, his own place of work. In spite of not once being convicted of anything more than marijuana possession, his rap sheet stacks intimidatingly high against him: 56 arrests, over 100 searches, and 258 times he has been stopped and questioned.

Sampson isn’t the lone victim to the harassment. Another employee was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. Charges were never filed, however, as the firearm was found during an illegal search captured on security cameras.

Once Saleh signed up and posted a sign endorsing zero tolerance as the police had requested his business to do, the police have frequented the store at incessant rates. Saleh claims that the police have harassed him as well once he started questioning them and sticking up for the rights of his employees and customers. On one occasion a patrol of 6 policemen comprising the entire Miami Gardens Rapid Action Deployment squad marched in and posted up ceremoniously for 10 minutes side by side as one went in to use the restroom. Saleh, bemused, could only ask questions to which the squad gave no response. On another night, two policemen followed Saleh out to his car and wrote him up for the tail light above his license plate being out. Two more patrol cars came to bring the total policemen necessary to write a tag light ticket to 6. They searched his car and found a gun, which Saleh had a license to carry. Saleh claims the police threatened with an expletive that they were going to get him before they finally left. The security tape of the parking lot from the night before captures a perfectly working tag light on Saleh’s car.

There are plenty of ways to analyze and speculate about the controversy in Miami Gardens and the egregious profiling habits of its police department. What is most important, however, is to realize how iconic this case is of the social injustice that plays out in the United States on an everyday basis and the real lives it ruins.

The ACLU recently released a report revealing that although whites are a little more likely to smoke marijuana, blacks are almost 4 times as likely to get arrested for it. Racial profiling abounds, and hopefully ambassadors like the Alex Saleh’s sticking up for victims like the Earl Sampson’s can do enough to at least bring awareness to the injustice of a society that too often would prefer to roll over and sleep on it.

To explore further how far behind the U.S. is compared to other social democracies concerning issues like these and many more, please visit our Social Justice page at InternationalComparisons.org.

Awareness precedes change…

And we’re not the only ones talking about it. The US continues its fall from its potential and precedent as noted keenly by Arthur Goldwag in his Truthout.org article, seemingly regardless of who’s running for the White House. If we’re striving for true change, where should we turn? Goldwag’s insightful review of Howard Steven Friedman’s latest book, The Measure of a Nation, offers a blunt and empirical wake up call for the awareness that is needed if significant change is going to take place in order to turn America back from just a great idea and into execution. Noting from Friedman, Goldwag focuses on the lack of attention given to the poor, minority communities citing our negligence towards them as the reason why we’re so far behind in quality of life indicators such as education, voter participation, life expectancy, incarcerating, amenable deaths, health care, and other areas. To paraphrase Goldwag, incarcerating the minority is ignoring the problem when we should be more attentive to the community if we are to make a priority of making the US the best country it once was.

Rania Khalek on racist mass incarceration

“The US has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, more than any other nation. and has five percent of the world’s population. The costs fall predominately on racial minorities. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population and 40 percent of US prisoners.”

Activists rallied outside the Justice Department in Washington DC reminding us of our propensity for mass incarceration. Reporting for Truth-out.org, Rania Khalek links the US’s incarceration rates to racial injustices throughout the system in his article.

Japan: country profile

In an intriguing article entitled “Reconsidering Japan and Reconsidering Paul Krugman,” Steve Hill reports that Japan’s economy is far more successful than that of the US. Japan has indeed failed to meet the money criteria of Western economists such as the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, but it “survived” a supposedly sluggish and lackluster decade in the 1990’s. Its performance, broadly understood, has statistics that defy criticism and, in fact, significantly exceed the United States. Such statistics include a 3% unemployment rate (about half of the United States’’ unemployment rate at the time), availability of health care, highest life expectancy, high literacy rate, and low rates of carbon emissions, infant mortality, incarceration, crime, mental illness, and drug abuse. Hill makes the case that the economies should not be measured just by money-growth but should use more important criteria. The “growth-machine” ideology of the United States has had its proverbial bubble popped and has struggled to re-inflate it. Some of Japan’s numbers do not match up to the expectations of Western economists, but the country performs better even during hard times.

New links posted

A new article from Citizens for Tax Justice entitled “United States Remains One of the Least Taxed Industrial Countries” has been linked on the Income Distribution page. The article indicates that of the 27 OECD countries, the U.S. ranks 25th in federal, state, and local tax totals.

Another article link has also been added to the Crime page. Families Against Mandatory Minimums contend in “What America Can’t Afford” that the U.S. prison is too costly to maintain and its incarceration numbers are incomparable to any other country in the world.

If you have any thoughts on either article or have other relevant articles presenting other insights, we’re very glad to hear them! Just drop a comment.