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Selected criminal justice reporting, curated by The Marshall Project
Where Police Reform Has Worked
This New York Times article points to some police departments that have successfully implemented reforms.
This city disbanded its police department 7 years ago. Here's what happened next
Looks at what happened after Camden, NJ "dissolved its police department in 2012 and replaced it with an entirely new one."
John Oliver explains ‘defund the police’ — and why it doesn’t mean ‘no police’
This article reports on reactions to the call to defund police, noting that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (NSFW video linked) dove into the subject of police reform, addressing "three key questions: How things got to this point; what the obstacles to reform have been; and what to do going forward."
Police Are Killing Fewer People In Big Cities, But More In Suburban And Rural America
This analysis suggests that police killings have declined in some areas "likely due to reforms to use-of-force policies implemented in the wake of high-profile deaths."
Not Dead Yet: the National Police Crisis, a New Conversation about Policing, and the Prospects for Accountability-Related Police Reform
Samuel Walker article published in University of Illinois Law Review 2018, no. 5 (2018): 1839.
Argues that despite setbacks, police reform can still occur and investigates three sources that will guide it. 1. Principles articulated by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 2. Policies recommended by the Police Executive Research Forum. 3. Administrative practices embodied in court-enforced settlements negotiated by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The State of Race and Punishment in America: Is Justice Really Blind?
Travis W. Franklin article published in Journal of Criminal Justice 59 (2018): 18-28.
"The study of racial disparity in the formal application of punishment (i.e., criminal sentencing) is widely recognized as an important area of research. Hundreds of studies have weighed in to determine whether race influences sentence outcomes (e.g., imprisonment and sentence length) and the current work attempts to summarize key aspects of this expansive literature."
How Inter-State Procedures in Human Rights Treaties Can Support the Black Lives Matter Movement
Discusses possible lack of U.S. compliance with provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and how initiating proceedings to investigate alleged violations could “encourage the United States to seriously confront its racial justice issues and genuinely commit to lasting change.“
A Judge Asked Harvard to Find Out Why So Many Black People Were In Prison. They Could Only Find 1 Answer: Systemic Racism
Introduces the Sept. 2020 report Racial Disparaties in the Massachusetts Criminal System
, which found that "the criminal justice system is unequal on every level. Cops in the state are more likely to stop Black drivers. Police are more likely to search or investigate Black residents. Law enforcement agents charge Black suspects with infractions that carry worse penalties. Prosecutors are less likely to offer Black suspects plea bargains or pre-trial intervention. Judges sentence Black defendants to longer terms in prison."
Black Lives Matter
"Founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes."
This organization researches and analyzes "policing practices across the country, provides technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns and develops model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide."
Center for Policing Equity
"The Center for Policing Equity works to help police departments realize their own equity goals...and advance the scientific understanding of issues of equity within organizations and policing."
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
CERD is the U.N. “body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.“
Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB)
Formed in 2000, this group "was created to deal with police brutality in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area on an ongoing basis." Under the publications tab, there are links to reports, fact sheets, and an online tutorial "Police Brutality 101."
Equal Justice Initiative
The Equal Justice Initiative "is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society."
Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation (IJRI)
Drake University Law School’s IJRI provides resources and training on a number of issues, including creating a more just system of civil and criminal justice.
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
The world's largest "professional association for police leaders," the IACP "is dedicated to advancing the policing profession through advocacy, research, outreach, and education in order to provide for safer communities worldwide."
Mapping Police Violence
“ Mapping Police Violence is a research collaborative collecting comprehensive data on police killings nationwide to quantify the impact of police violence in communities.”
Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)
M4BL works with individuals and other organizations to "create a shared vision and policy agenda to win rights, recognition, and resources for Black people."
My Brother's Keeper
Resources on police violence and antiracism in America. Includes the video from the June 3, 2020 virtual presentation, "A conversation with President Obama: Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence."
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
"Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans."
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL): Racial Disparity
NACDL provides resources examining race and criminal justice, noting, "Race matters in our criminal justice system. It affects how likely you are to be pulled over by police, how likely you are to be released or detained pretrial, how likely the state is to seek the death penalty, and how severely you are sentenced."
National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC)
The NBJC strives to bridge "the gaps between the movements for racial justice and LGBTQ/SGL equality."
National Police Accountability Project (NPAP)
NPAP is a project of the National Lawyers Guild founded "to promote the accountability of law enforcement officers and their employers for violations of the Constitution and the laws of the United States."
Racial Justice Improvement Project
This ABA initiative “is designed to identify and reform policies and practices that produce racial disparities in local criminal justice systems across the country.”
Stanford Center for Racial Justice
"Through publishing and teaching on timely issues, student engagement, service, and training, the Center will facilitate social change by providing research and collaboration on policy reforms to dismantle racism."
Vera Institute of Justice
The institute "envision[s] a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone." The Research & Analysis
section provides access to reports on a wide range of topics, including policing and community, racial bias in prosecution, reducing the use of jail, and more.
From Fatal Force, the Washington Post database of "every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States" since Jan. 1, 2015.
Books & Reports
Via Executive Order 13684 (Dec. 18, 2014), President Barack Obama established the Task Force on 21st Century Policing in order to "to identify the best means to provide an effective partnership between law enforcement and local communities that reduces crime and increases trust." This lead to a final report, an implementation guide, and a one-year follow-up report, as well as assessments by other organizations.
Justice in Policing Act of 2020
H.R. 7120 was introduced June 8, 2020.
Congress.gov Advanced Search
In the Advanced Search section of Congress.gov, you can create many kinds of searches.
were derived from the following advanced search:
1. limited to the current Congress
2. In policy area of Crime and Law Enforcement (Clicked on "Choose Policy Areas" under Subjects, then "Crime and Law Enforcement," then the "Apply" button. Finally, clicked "Search" to get the results.)
Executive order on safe policing for safe communities
Executive Order 13929, issued by President Trump on June 16, 2020
Iowa & Local Legislative Actions
Recommendations of the Governor's FOCUS Committee on Criminal Justice Reform
This Oct 2020 report "Promoting an Unbiased Criminal Justice System" makes recommendations for Iowa.
HF 2647 (88 G.A. 2020)
A bill for an act relating to peace officers, including the certification, training, and prosecution of peace officers and the use of chokeholds by peace officers, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.
Des Moines Ordinance on Unbiased Policing
The city of Des Moines adopted an ordinance on unbiased policing policy on June 22, 2020. Typically, before an ordinance can be codified in Des Moines, it has to pass three readings. The first reading of this ordinance was June 8, 2020
. The second reading was June 22, 2020
(see item 71I). After passing the second reading, the council voted to waive the third reading
and adopt the ordinance as of that night.
Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure
On April 3, 2018 the Iowa Supreme Court announced the establishment of an Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure Review Task Force charged with comprehensively reviewing the rules and making recommendations for their revision.
On March 30, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court invited public comment on the rules, with a deadline of June 30. On June 26, the public comment period was extended to July 14, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 17 and 18, 2020, the U.N. Human Rights held "an urgent debate on current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests."
UN Human Rights Council resolution summary
“In a resolution adopted by consensus, the Council decided to request the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the assistance of relevant Special Mandate Holders, to prepare a report on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, especially those incidents that resulted in the death of George Floyd and other Africans and of people of African descent, to contribute to accountability and redress for victims. The Council further requested the High Commissioner to examine government responses to antiracism peaceful process peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists.”
Black Lives Matter: Reviewing US Systemic Racism under CERD and CAT
Free webinar (July 15, noon CST) co-sponsored by the ABA, International Bar Association, and the American Society of International Law. Registration required
Drake University Law Library • 2604 Forest Ave. • Des Moines, Iowa 50311-3014