Defund the police? "Defund the police" means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. Defund does not mean abolish policing. (Brookings)
PRO-Defunding: We must cut the astronomical amount of money that our governments spend on law enforcement and give that money to more helpful services like job training, counseling, and violence-prevention programs. Funneling so many resources into law enforcement instead of education, affordable housing, and accessible health care has caused significant harm to communities. (ACLU)
ANTI-Defunding: Defunding the police reduces funding for vitally important training and ongoing professional development that needs to occur to address bad policing tactics. Defunding the police will harm our force's ability to recruit and retain good officers. (Potomac Local News)
ANTI-Crime Bill: The law [shepherded through Congress by then-Senator Joe Biden] imposed tougher prison sentences at the federal level and encouraged states to do the same. It provided funds for states to build more prisons, funded 100,000 more cops, and escalated the war on drugs. (Vox.com)
PRO-Crime Bill: At the same time, the law included the Violence Against Women Act; funded background checks for guns; funded drug courts to divert drug offenders from prison into treatment; and helped fund some addiction treatment. (Vox.com)
A stop-and-frisk refers to a brief non-intrusive police stop of a suspect. The Fourth Amendment requires that before stopping the suspect, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed by the suspect. (Cornell)
A recording of Michael Bloomberg discussing his stop-and-frisk policy as New York City mayor surfaced online, saying the best way to reduce gun violence among minorities was to "throw them up against the wall and frisk them." (Bloomberg News )
A federal judge found the New York City Police Department's "Stop-and-Frisk" policy unconstitutional. Overwhelming evidence suggests that the policy is used as a method of racially profiling and harassing Black and Latino citizens. In 1999, Blacks and Latinos made up 50% of New York's population, but accounted for 84% of the city's stops. (CivilRights.org)
Three Strikes Laws:
‘Three Strikes’ mean that people convicted of a third felony receive a mandatory life sentence. The term refers to the baseball rule, "Three Strikes and You're Out." Some candidates advocate ‘Two Strikes’ or ‘One Strike,’ which generally means more mandatory sentencing, less judicial discretion, and less chance of early parole.
Mitt Romney's term ‘One Strike’ is intended to be a stricter version of Three Strikes. This term, as well as "stop-and-frisk", have fallen out of favor since Romney's presidential run; "stop-and-frisk" was only revived in 2020 because of Mike Bloomberg's and Donald Trump's history.
Joe Biden’s “Sentencing guidelines” are another form of mandatory sentencing (using legislative rules for sentencing instead of judicial discretion).
Gay panic defense :
The gay/trans panic legal defense legitimizes and excuses violent and lethal behavior against members of the LGBTQ+ community. The defense is defined by the LGBT Bar as "a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant's violent reaction, including murder." (ABA)
PRO-Gay panic defense :
Since the 1960s, the gay and trans panic defenses have appeared in court opinions in approximately one-half of the states. No state recognizes gay and trans panic defenses as free-standing defenses under their respective penal codes. (UCLA)
ANTI-Gay panic defense : In 2013, the ABA approved a resolution urging governments to curb the use of the defense. Colorado will become the 11th state to outright ban the use of the gay/trans panic defense. (5280.com)
PRO-Bail reform: Money bail is a poor tool for achieving pretrial justice. The money bail system jails poor people because they are poor, not because they have been convicted of a crime and not because they are a danger to others. Meanwhile, that same system allows dangerous but wealthy people to post their bond and be released. (Harvard)
ANTI-Bail reform: Bail has been a guarantor of the accused's liberty and public safety by creating stakes for the accused to fulfill their obligation to be adjudicated in our criminal justice system. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that the standard is not and cannot be "affordability." (Daily News)
Police Body Cameras:
Body-worn cameras, which can be mounted on an officer's eyeglasses or chest area, offers real-time information when used by officers on patrol or other assignments that bring them into contact with members of the community. (NIJ)
The ability to hold police departments accountable with body cameras often depends on rules designed by those same police departments. Evidence from outside sources--like witness cell phones and CCTV cameras--is often far more accessible to the public than body cam footage. (Wired)
Police body cameras improve police accountability and lower reports of police misconduct.
Police body cameras are a powerful tool in domestic violence cases. Police body cameras are a good police reform tool and have strong support from members of the public. (Enc.Brit)
Police body cameras are too expensive and unreliable for many police departments. Police body cameras invade the privacy of citizens, potentially exposing victims and subjecting citizens to facial recognition software. Police body cameras decrease the safety of police officers and negatively affect their physical and mental health. (Enc.Brit)
1989 NYC case:
The Central Park 5 were five young teens (four black, one Latino) in 1989, when they were accused of beating and raping a woman who was jogging through Central Park. After their arrests, the five were violently interrogated and deprived of food and sleep, and they ultimately offered a coerced confession. The teenagers were exonerated by DNA evidence and a confession from the true perpetrator in 2002. (Vox.com)
Trump on Central Park 5 in 1989:
After the five, were arrested, Trump took out a full-page ad in the local papers calling for the state to bring back capital punishment. "BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!" Trump criticized the city for settling their civil case in 2014, calling the deal "a disgrace." (NBC News)
PRO-First Step Act:
Its sentencing reform components shorten federal prison sentences and give people additional chances to avoid mandatory minimum penalties in some cases. The law's prison reform elements are designed to improve conditions in federal prison by curbing inhumane practices and by reorienting prisons around rehabilitation rather than punishment. (Brennan Center)
ANTI-First Step Act:
During the first full calendar year in which the law applied, it resulted in shorter sentences for more than 4,000 drug offenders. While that is nothing to sneeze at, it is a modest accomplishment in the context of a federal prison system that keeps more than 150,000 Americans, including more than 68,000 drug offenders, behind bars.
The 'Black Lives Matter' movement attempts to get police to stop treating African-Americans differently than white suspects.
The movement comes to the fore whenever a video emerges from a police shooting of black suspects, as has occurred regularly over the past years.
Saying 'Black Lives Matter' blames the police for institutionalized racism, and demands corrective action by changing how police behave.
The counter-movement uses the term 'Blue Lives Matter,' implying support of police in a dangerous job.
Key cases in the BLM movement for 2020 include: George Floyd; Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery; Daniel Prude
The National Crime Victimization Survey found the lowest overall crime rate since the survey began in 1973.
Since 1994, violent crime rates have declined, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2010.
Property crime rates continue to decline as well.
Despite the falling crime rate, taking into account both violent crime and property crime, 83 percent of Americans can expect to be a victim of crime at least once in their lifetime.
The opposite viewpoint from ‘Three Strikes’ focuses on the increasing prison population.
In this view, along with prison privatization, imprisonment has become big business, and hence subject to political pressure to increase imprisonment.
In particular, black males are ever more likely to be imprisoned.
‘Broken Windows’ Laws
‘Broken Windows’ laws mean that police focus on ‘quality of life’ issues as much as on crime itself. By addressing even minor crimes such as broken windows, according to this theory, a community is less likely to tolerate any crime, and overall crime rates should fall.
‘Community Policing’ refers to a policy of crime prevention replacing incident response. It is often accompanied by a ‘broken windows’ policy, or by increased police presence on the streets.
A ‘tort’ means a civil infraction as opposed to a criminal violation. ‘Tort reform’ includes capping lawsuit rewards; banning ‘frivolous lawsuits’; or some other change in civil lawsuit procedures.
The death penalty is currently implemented in 32 states (down from 34 in 2012). It was re-legalized by a Supreme Court decision in 1977. Since then, 1,392 people have been executed. About 3,000 inmates remain on ‘Death Row.’ Texas is by far the national leader in executions—it has executed 518 people as of November 2014, or 37% of the national total. (Oklahoma is a very distant second with 111). Florida is fourth, with 89 executions, but has 404 people on death row as of Nov. 2014 (only California has more, with 745).
Much of the current controversy about the death penalty focuses on the circumstances where it should be applied, and on its unequal application among racial and socioeconomic classes. About 52% of death row inmates are Black or other minority, versus 17% in the general population. Over 98% of death row inmates are male.
Congress defines ‘Hate Crimes’ as a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation of that person.
Hate Crimes are covered primarily as racial or anti-gay issues under Civil Rights.
Amendments V and VIII to the US Constitution
V. No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.... (1791)
VIII. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. (1791)