Showing posts with label justice system. Show all posts
Showing posts with label justice system. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted

African-Americans are far more likely to be wrongfully convicted of crimes such as murder, sexual assault and illegal drug activity than whites due to factors including racial bias and official misconduct, a study released on Tuesday said.

Of the 1,900 defendants convicted of crimes and later exonerated, 47 percent were African-Americans - three times their representation in the population - according to the study from the National Registry of Exonerations, which examined cases from 1989 to October 2016.

The study also said black Americans were about seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white Americans.

"In the murder cases we examined, the rate of official misconduct is considerably higher in cases where the defendant is African-American compared to cases where the defendant is white," said Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan Law School professor who is senior editor of the group that tracks U.S. exonerations.

He said unconscious bias, institutional discrimination and explicit racism, were factors in some of the wrongful convictions.

When it comes to drug crimes, black Americans are about 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted than innocent white people, the study said.

Read more: African-Americans more likely to be wrongfully convicted: study

Monday, February 27, 2017

Google pledges $11.5M to fight racial bias in policing, sentencing

Google is handing out $11.5 million in grants to organizations combating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, double what it has given so far.

And, in keeping with a company built on information, the latest wave of grants target organizations that crunch data to pinpoint problems and propose solutions.

"There is significant ambiguity regarding the extent of racial bias in policing and criminal sentencing," says Justin Steele, principal with Google.org, the Internet giant's philanthropic arm. "We must find ways to improve the accessibility and usefulness of information."

Among the organizations receiving funds from Google.org is the Center for Policing Equity, a national research center that collaborates with police departments and the communities they serve to track statistics on law enforcement actions, from police stops to the use of force. In addition to the grant of $5 million, Google engineers will put their time and skills to work on improving the center's national database.

"It's hard to measure justice," says Phillip Atiba Goff, the center's co-founder and president. "In policing, data are so sparse and they are not shared broadly. The National Justice Database is an attempt to measure justice so that people who want to do the right thing can use that metric to lay out a GPS for getting where we are trying to go. That's really what we see Google as being a key partner in helping us do."

Read more: Google pledges $11.5M to fight racial bias in policing, sentencing

Monday, February 20, 2017

10 Years in Jail and Still No Trial for Murder Suspect


Kharon Davis has spent nearly 10 years in jail. He’s had four sets of attorneys, with two judges on the bench. His co-defendants’ cases have wrapped up. Davis has appeared in court for several hearings, and a new prosecutor is assigned.

But Davis has had no trial. There’s been no jury, no verdict, no conviction. Police say he killed a man in a drug deal gone wrong, but he hasn’t had his day in court. He’s charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty. Trial dates have come and gone, and it’s now scheduled for September. By then, 10 years and three months will have passed since the crime.

The Constitution guarantees suspects “the right to a speedy trial.” Capital cases often take a year or longer to get to trial, but 10 years is rare — experts call it shocking and say it could be unconstitutional. Prisoner advocates and court-watchers say such delays take an exhaustive toll on suspects stuck behind bars and on victims’ families, who are robbed of closure that can come from trials.

Davis’ mother says her son is innocent but hasn’t had the chance to prove it in court, and his health is suffering because of the long stretch in jail.

“It’s like they snatched up my child, put him in a cage and threw away the key,” Chrycynthia Ward Davis said.

Read more: 10 Years in Jail and Still No Trial for Murder Suspect


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sandra Bland's Family Reaches Tentative $1.9M Settlement in Lawsuit

The family of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell after her arrest following a traffic stop, has reached a tentative settlement of its wrongful death lawsuit, according to the family's attorney and officials in Waller County, Texas.

Cannon Lambert, the lawyer representing Bland’s family, told ABC-owned station WLS in Chicago today that a $1.9 million settlement was reached in the family's civil suit against the Texas Department of Public Safety; Waller County, Texas; and some county employees including two former jailers.

Waller County released a statement by its attorney Larry Simmons that a potential settlement agreement has been reached but that a few details remain to be worked out and the final deal must be approved by the county commissioners. "The Waller County defendants ... emphasize they vigorously deny any fault or wrongdoing," the county's attorney said.

Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said the most important part of the tentative settlement is the changes that Waller County would make to its jailhouse procedures.

“Obviously, it will never bring Sandy back,” Reed-Veal said in an interview with WLS. But, she added, “I feel so excited that now we have real change that’s about to happen right there in Waller County. I believe it will affect many, many other places across the country. It’s a victory for mothers.”

Lambert said that under the settlement Waller County must provide emergency nurses during all shifts at the jail; use automated electronic sensors to ensure accurate and timely checks on all occupied jail cells; and actively seek passage of state legislation that would provide greater funding for the intake and screening of county jail inmates and for other supports for local jails.

Of the $1.9 million agreed to in the settlement, Waller County will be responsible for the bulk of it, $1.8 million, Lambert told WLS. The Texas Department of Public Safety is limited by state statutes to paying no more than $100,000 under such lawsuits, he said.

[SOURCE]