really glad to be reading. It wasn't that long ago that I wasn't sure why Ban the Box was an important issue. The tone of the book is smart, calm and...morereally glad to be reading. It wasn't that long ago that I wasn't sure why Ban the Box was an important issue. The tone of the book is smart, calm and assertive, which makes for an enjoyable read as well as a provocative one. What's really saddening is the documented history of the court's refusal to entertain any form of unacknowledged racism.
Excerpt from p.124-p.125 "In 2002, a team of researchers at the University of Washington decided to take the defenses of the drug war seriously, by subjecting the arguments to empirical testing in a major study of drug-law enforcement in a racially mixed city - Seattle. The study found that, contrary to the prevailing "common sense," the high arrest rates of African Americans in drug-law enforcement could not be explained by rates of offending; nor could they be explained by other standard excuses, such as the ease and efficiency of policing open-air drug markets, citizen complaints, crime rates, or drug-related violence. The study also debunked the assumption that white drug dealers deal indoors, making their criminal activity more difficult to detect. The authors found that it was untrue stereotypes about crack markets, crack dealers, and crack babies - not facts - that were driving discretionary decision making by the Seattle Police Department. The facts were as follows: Seattle residents were far more likely to report suspected narcotics activities in residences - not outdoors - but police devoted their resources to open-air drug markets and to the one precinct that was least likely to be identified as the site of suspected drug activity in citizen complaints. In fact, although hundreds of outdoor drug transactions were recorded in predominantly white areas of Seattle, police concentrated their drug enforcement efforts in one downtown drug market where the frequency of drug transactions was much lower. In racially mixed open-air drug markets, black dealers were far more likely to be arrested than whites, even though white dealers were present and visible. And the department focused overwhelmingly in crack - the one drug in Seattle more likely to be sold by African Americans - despite the fact that local hospital records indicated that overdose deaths involving heroin were more numerous than all overdose deaths for crack and powder cocaine combined. Local police acknowledged that no significant level of violence was associated with crack in Seattle and that other drugs were causing more hospitalizations, but steadfastly maintained that their deployment decisions were nondiscriminatory. The study's authors concluded, based on their review and analysis of the empirical evidence, that the Seattle Police Department's decisions to focus so heavily on crack, to the near exclusion of other drugs, and to concentrate its efforts on outdoor drug markets in downtown areas rather than drug markets located indoors or in predominantly white communities reflect "a racialized conception of the drug problem." As the authors put it: "[The Seattle Police Department's] focus on black and Latino individuals and on the drug most strongly associated with 'blackness' suggest that law enforcement policies and practices are predicated on the assumption that the drug problem is, in fact, a black and Latino one, and that crack, the drug most strongly associated with urban blacks, is 'the worst.'" This racialized cultural script about who and what constitutes the drug problem renders illegal drug activity by whites invisible. "White people," the study's authors observed, "are simply not perceived as drug offenders by Seattle police officers."
AND SOLUTIONS! (reformatted, some text removed, no text added) p.220-221 "All of the financial incentives granted to law enforcement to arrest poor black and brown people for drug offenses must be revoked. Federal grant money for drug enforcement must end; drug forfeiture laws must be stripped from the books; racial profiling must be eradicated; the concentration of drug busts in poor communities of color must cease; the transfer of military equipment and aid to local law enforcement agencies waging the drug war must come to a screeching halt. Black and brown people in ghetto communities must no longer be viewed as the designated enemy ghetto communities must no longer be treated like occupied zones. Law enforcement must adopt a compassionate, humane approach to the problems of the urban poor - an approach that goes beyond the rhetoric of "community policing" to a method of engagement that promotes trust, healing, and genuine partnership. Data collection for police and prosecutors should be mandated nationwide to ensure that selective enforcement is no longer taking place. Racial impact statements that assess the racial and ethnic impact of criminal justice legislation must be adopted. Public defender offices should be funded at the same level as prosecutor's offices to eliminate the unfair advantage afforded the incarceration machine. Mandatory drug sentencing laws must be rescinded. Marijuana ought to be legalized (and perhaps other drugs as well). Meaningful re-entry programs must be adopted - programs that provide a pathway not just to dead-end, minimum-wage jobs, but also training and education so those labeled criminals can realistically reach for high-paying jobs and viable, rewarding career paths. Prison workers should be retrained for jobs and careers that do not involve caging human beings. Drug treatment on demand must be provided for all Americans, a far better investment of taxpayer money than prison cells for drug offenders. Barriers to re-entry, specifically the myriad laws that operate to discriminate against drug offenders for the rest of their lives in every aspect of their social, economic, and political life, must be eliminated."
an unexpected find - an argument that indicts many "get women elected" programs p.237 "Gerald Torres and Lani Guinier offer a similar critique of affirmative action in The Miner's Canary. They point out that "conventional strategies for social change proceed as though a change in who administers power fundamentally affects the structure of power itself." This narrow approach to social change is reflected in the justifications offered for affirmative action, most notably the claim that "previous outsiders, once given a chance, will exercise power differently." The reality, however, is that the existing hierarchy disciplines newcomers, requiring them to exercise power in the same old ways an dplay by the same old rules in order to survive. The newcomers, Torres and Guinier explain, are easily co-opted as they have much to lose but little to gain by challenging the rules of the game."(less)
I was craving a novel and this was a solid choice. Just dark enough, and just challenging enough to feel worthwhile, but really beautifully constructe...moreI was craving a novel and this was a solid choice. Just dark enough, and just challenging enough to feel worthwhile, but really beautifully constructed. (less)
Only in the final chapter does the book deal with alternative visions of deterring crime and rehabilitating offenders. Mainly treats the prison-indust...moreOnly in the final chapter does the book deal with alternative visions of deterring crime and rehabilitating offenders. Mainly treats the prison-industrial-complex and human rights abuses. Very provocative is the content on the state as perpetrating sexual assault. "In the 1990s, the variety of corporations making money from prisons is truly dizzying, ranging from Dial Soap to Famous Amos cookies, from AT&T to health-care providers." p. 99 "The fact, for example, that many corporations with global markets now rely on prisons as an important source of profit helps us to understand the rapidity with which prisons began to proliferate precisely at a time when official studies indicated that the crime rate was falling." p.85
it's difficult to create structures and institutions that ask, as David writes "'Why do these terrible things happen?' instead of simply reacting." Certainly a first step is to remove the profit-driven incentives towards increasing the incarcerated population. (less)
p.52 "The three most indigenous forms of democratic radicalism initiated by white males in the American democratic experiment - populism, progressivism...morep.52 "The three most indigenous forms of democratic radicalism initiated by white males in the American democratic experiment - populism, progressivism, and trade unionism - made major contributions to taming the corruption, graft, and greed of plutocratic elites and corrupt politicians. The farmers-led populist movement was a backlash against the free market fundamentalism of "the money kings" and "the business princes" of the Gilded Age. It called for more democratic participation of rural producers in the shaping of government and business policy. The progressive movement was an urban middle-class backlash against the corrupt ties of politicians to corporate elites and the unfettered greed of financial bosses. It called for more democratic input and bureaucratic efficiency over public policy. The trade-union movement was the worker-led backlash (often by new immigrants) against the free-market fundamentalism of corporate owners and financial bosses. It called for more democratic control over the workplace, especially more say in wages paid to laborers. ... "In fact, all three movements tended to be xenophobic and imperialist even as they were deeply democratic. They stand as vital achievements in deepening our democracy, and yet we must acknowledge the limits of each in coming to terms with the legacy of race and empire, as well as the need for continued vigilance on all three of these crucial fronts."
His take on American imperialism and democracy within Jewish/Islamic traditions is tiring. Why doesn't he write like he speaks?
p154 Catholic Worker Movement and Dorothy Day "by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, or the poor, of the destitute - the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor... we can to a certain extent change the world: we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world."(less)
plotless and meandering. Does that thing I don't like that memoirs can be vulnerable to: 'trauma, trauma, trauma' as a series of events and no sense o...moreplotless and meandering. Does that thing I don't like that memoirs can be vulnerable to: 'trauma, trauma, trauma' as a series of events and no sense of the protagonist as reflective and capable of personal growth. (less)