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Category Archives: War On Drugs
Posted: August 6, 2020 at 7:12 pm
In recent weeks, documented cases of police brutality amid the pandemic have sparked a national conversation about criminal justice reform. Regardless of our diverse opinions regarding law enforcement and the Black Lives Matter movement, this is an opportunity to thoughtfully consider if there is room for systemic reform.
The fact of the matter is, there are flaws in our criminal justice system. One policy that has contributed to the glaring division for decades now, with little discernible benefit, is the war on drugs.
Data indicate that the war on drugs has been a policy failure. Drug laws were originally designed to keep individuals healthier and substance-free, but decades of research indicates that these laws are more a hindrance than help.
Self-reported drug use has increased since the 1970s. Today, 26.5 percent of high-school seniors say it is fairly easy or very easy to obtain cocaine. Since former President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse Public Enemy No. 1, signed the Controlled Substances Act and rejected the findings of the Shafer Commission in 1971, enforcing drug laws has cost U.S. taxpayers over $1 trillion.
The most recent data from 2019 reveal that drug overdoses are on the rise once again. Maine is in the top ten states for opioid-related deaths per person.
This opioid epidemic is primarily a public health issue, not one of criminality. The cost to society to arrest and incarcerate the drug-addicted instead of using substance abuse and mental health treatment options greatly outweighs the potential deterrent effects of criminalization.
Drug charges frequently have catastrophic effects on Mainers after they are released from jail or prison. Those with a criminal history involving drug charges have a harder time finding employment, thereby eroding their ability to function in a self-sufficient manner while also taking a toll on that individuals mental health.
Further complicating the issue, individuals who are incarcerated for drug possession are housed with others who have been charged for drug trafficking, which forces us to consider the possibility that incarceration actually assists users and dealers in building working relationships.
Incarceration for drug use also breaks up family units, which increases the likelihood of financial hardship and repeat offending. Society can do more to break this cycle.
Excessively stringent drug laws dont just harm individualsthey also negatively affect communities. The war on drugs has been linked to increases in violence because it has led to the development of drug cartels and gangs. Were seeing concrete examples of drug trafficking and violent activity in Maine, such as in Downeast Maine, where fishermen in particular are struggling with opioid abuse.
In an article published by CBS News, Charles Rudelitch, an economist from Maine, noted, We know that millions of dollars of income that otherwise should have been spent in our coastal communities is being lost to heroin and diverted to prescription drugs.
The loss of community cohesion should be significant enough to make us reconsider our drug enforcement laws. But the loss goes even furtherour drug policies have resulted in millions of Maine taxpayer dollars going to waste.
Its difficult to calculate the full cost, since various government entities are responsible for enforcing drug policies. But between 2017 and 2018 alonethe most recent data availableMaines Drug Enforcement Agency spent over $6.5 million to police non-violent drug crimes. Maine jails and prisons spend an average of $43,773 to house each inmate, 22 percent of whom are there for nonviolent drug crimes.
Keep in mind that the majority of Maines drug-related arrests are for possession, not manufacturing or sale.
Even those obligated to enforce drug laws are concerned that drug charges do more harm than good. Earlier this year, two police officers in Maine co-authored and published an article in the Portland Press Herald highlighting their ambivalence about the effectiveness of charging individuals for drug offenses.
These officers observed that we dont turn to the criminal justice system to address hunger or flu outbreaks. Yet for some reason, it is the approach we have chosen for addressing drug use, later adding, The fact is, a lot of people who are in jail for using or selling small amounts of drugs dont need to be there.
If the people responsible for enforcing drug regulation laws doubt these rules are useful, shouldnt we be skeptical too?
In some regards, the war on drugs can be viewed as a more wasteful and hazardous version of the prohibition. The government tries to enforce laws that will carefully guide the behavior of individuals, but the unintended consequences prove to be worse than the original issue.
As drug use becomes increasingly problematic in Maine, we must think critically about our response and admit that charging individuals for drug crimes is a misguided response.
We could re-classify small amounts of drug possession as a civil infraction (rather than labeling mere possession of certain drugs as a felony crime), reducing the majority of drug trafficking charges to misdemeanors, and mandate drug court (rather than incarceration) more broadly.
The status quo of our criminal justice system is not working. If we fail to address our flawed drug regulations, we will continue to see our communities suffer as a result of these policies.
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Posted: at 7:12 pm
New device to help war on drugs
Floyd County police use device to detect drugs before they see them.
FLOYD COUNTY, Ga - Floyd County police have a new tool in their battle against the opioid crisis.Investigators saidit's an efficient way to find drugs that are not in plain sight.
"It's called a Viken detection x-ray imager. It sees through surfaces, car panels, walls, in the search for, in our case, illicit contraband," said Floyd County Police Officer Baker Harbin.
Police said it works like a handheld X-ray machine and can detect contraband hidden in a car or building.
Police will use the device to scan a portion of a vehicle, like a door panel or seat, where something illegal might be stashed. During training, the device picked up an image of a large amount of meth hidden in a compartment above the rear tire of an SUV.
The device can pick up drugs, bundles of cash, even guns.
"Most guns have some bit of plastic, like our Glock, so it's going to show," said Harbin.
Officer Harbin saidbecause it is similar to an X-ray, it will not be used on people or cars with people inside.
"Roadside if we were to use this machine, it would be a vehicle we have consent to search or probable cause to search," said Officer Harbin.
Police will also use it while searching a home or building with a search warrant.
The Floyd County Police Department was oneof only fivedepartments across the country to receive a grant for the imaging device.Officers saidthey've been particularly impacted by the opiod crisis.
"In the past twoyears, we've had an exponential growth of opiod deaths. With the number of state highways, corridors that are being used to traffic drugs to Rome, away from Rome or through it.," said Harbin.
Officer Harbin says this will make a tremndous difference when it comes to keeping drugs off the streets.
The Floret Coalition Is Adapting the Giving Circle Model to Help Address the Damage of the War on Drugs – Willamette Week
Posted: at 7:12 pm
When Maya Shaw first entered the world of recreational cannabis, she found an industry skilled at churning out Instagrammable content but unableor unwillingto confront its own problems.
"It's crazy that no one was really talking about the fact that we were openly profiting off cannabis and making it cute and making it fun and accessible," says the Richmond, Va., founder and namesake of online smoke shop Shaw. "And it's like, OK, that's cool, but can we have a conversation about what's happening behind the scenes? The War on Drugs?"
Shaw is now part of a group aiming to start those hardconversationsand put some money where the discussion is.
The 27-year-old entrepreneur is an inaugural member of the Floret Coalition, a business collective with the mission of bringing together small businesses in the weed space who are eager to become involved in the fight for restorative justice but might not be entirely sure how or where to start.
The Floret Coalition is a division ofBroccoli, a Portland arts and culture magazine centered on cannabis. It operates as a modified giving circle: Small cannabusinesses join the coalition, receive an onboarding packet and commit to a minimum monthly donation. When the group's board announces the charity of the month, all Floret Coalition members direct donations straight to the recipients.
The three-member board vets each charity, and the board changes yearly. For the coalition's first year, Shaw is joined by entrepreneur and podcaster Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey and cannabis advocate Kassia Graham.
Floret emerged as "both a response and a realization that we had some community power that we could activate beyond just what we could do individually," says Anja Charbonneau,Broccoli's editor in chief. "Seeing the way that people were willing to open their wallets during the first wave of this summer's protests really gave us the push to believe that people were ready to rally."
Shaw puts it another way: "It's time to tell your friends to pull up."
WW: Did the idea for the Floret Coalition arise in response to the George Floyd uprising or had it been in the works before then?
Anja Charbonneau:Floret getting started in June was not only a reaction to the recent Black Lives Matters uprisings but also addressing a longer-term need that we've seen in cannabis to find tangible, financial ways to give back.
Maya Shaw:It was pretty seamless. Anja sent a message to the three of us, and she was just like, "Here's what I want to create, and the three of you would be an awesome first team of board members." And I couldn't agree more. We're all pretty like-minded in the sense that we want to do the right thing and we want to make sure that we're making this the best that it can besetting the ground, setting the stakes, and showing up for our community.
What criteria do organizations need to meet in order to qualify to receive donations?
Shaw:We want to make sure that we are really choosing organizations that are going to use the money properly. We're focused on organizations created so that these communities can have the same resources already available within communities that haven't been affected as such by the War on Drugs. Knowing that the Black community, the Latinx community, and Indigenous people overall are affected most, there's so much opportunity there. It's not necessarily just one specific thing. There are so many pockets and different crevices where we can put the money knowing it's going back into communities in need that are affected.
What criteria must businesses meet to join the coalition, aside from being cannabis adjacent and donation consistency?
Charbonneau:That's pretty much it. The funniest example I have is a brand that makes catnip toys shaped like joints. They're like, "Does this count?" Of courseyou're making money off the idea of weed, so why not?
Can you explain the difference between performative allyship and, as Rihanna put it, "pulling up"?
Shaw:Brands just really need to be honest with themselves in terms of the long run. Silence speaks louder than anything.This industry is built on the backs of Black people, Latin people and Indigenous people, and anyone profiting off this industry needs to be finding a way to donate back to the communities that are affected negatively by the injustice in the industry. It's almost, in a sense, reparations, or reworking profit. If you're profiting, you also need to be giving back.
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Posted: at 7:12 pm
From A Thousand Cuts (2020), dir. Ramona Diaz (all images courtesy David Magdael & Associates)
On July 10 of this year, the Philippines House of Representatives voted 70-11 against the license renewal for ABS-CBN, the countrys largest media network. Maria Ressa, executive editor of Rappler, another Filipino news outlet, has faced spurious charges of cyber libel and tax evasion. She sees this as retribution for her four-year crusade against the dictatorial President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as his ever-growing army of online supporters who cheer on his sexism, homophobia, and violence.
It is against this bleak political landscape that director Ramona Diaz sets her new documentary A Thousand Cuts, in which Ressa and Rapplers fight against Dutertes war on the press takes center stage. Diaz and Ressa sat down with Hyperallergic for an interview over Zoom. It started with me wanting to make a film on Dutertes war on drugs, Diaz explains. The global audience would probably look at that and think it to be something that was affecting only people in the Philippines. Marias was the loudest voice against Duterte. She was questioning the government-aided dissemination of disinformation and connecting it with Dutertes impunity. The issue of disinformation is very global, and I wanted people all over the world to take note.
It all goes back to Silicon Valley, Ressa adds. A Thousand Cuts follows the Philippines 2019 legislative elections, when for the first time in 80 years, the opposition failed to secure even a single seat. It illuminates the Duterte governments use of propaganda and social media to lie to their citizens, obscuring what many of them know to be the truth. This post-truth reality is one many people are now far too familiar with, even outside the Philippines. When Facebook sells our most vulnerable data to the highest bidder, we no more have facts to hold each other accountable by. Accountability from the tech companies is a prerequisite to claim our democracies back. You do not have democracy if you dont have facts, Ressa asserts. In one scene, Duterte tells a Rappler journalist, You will be allowed to criticize us. But you will go to jail for your crimes. I was immediately reminded of the likes of Gauri Lankesh and Vikram Joshi, journalists back home in India who were murdered for speaking out against the countrys Hindu nationalist government.
Diazs previous film, Motherland (2017), focused on the worlds busiest maternity ward in Manilas Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. Its concurrent themes of womens bodies and the states multi-pronged control over them are carried into A Thousand Cuts. Dutertes government directly encourages rape threats and the sexist dehumanization of Ressa and her colleagues, such as reporter Pia Ranada. At the same time, the state uses the hyper-sexualized bodies of women like pop star Mocha Uson to titillate citizens into voting their way. We must never get used to it, Diaz insists. If every time he opens his mouth, something misogynist comes out, it should shock us every time. Ressa sums up the tragic virulence of this scenario when she responds, Which he are you referring to? As much as Dutertes jokes may shock, the women in his crowds hooting in approval deal the heaviest blow. Misogyny is infuriating, but its even worse to see who willingly serves as its foot soldiers.
In a scene at a rally, Duterte uses his microphone to demonstrate a vulgar joke about his penis. It inescapably brings to mind a president who was plainly recorded boasting about grabbing women by their private parts. Misogyny, fascism, repression of the press, and fake news go hand in hand, and this is not solely a Filipino problem. They surround people in so many countries so densely that we can become dulled to their effects. A Thousand Cuts is a firm refusal to let unholy intersectional fascism be normalized. During a Rappler holiday party, Ressa tells her colleagues, We cannot become monsters when fighting monsters. A Thousand Cuts is a document of journalistic resistance to monsters and their methods of seducing people into inertness. To finish her toast, Ressa says:And the only thing that keeps us from becoming monsters is love.
A Thousand Cuts opens in virtual cinemas August 7.
Posted: at 7:12 pm
The red or pink pills usually aren't much larger than the fingernail on your pinky. They also don't cost too much - between two and four euros each. Nevertheless, they are among the most significant problems currently facing Bangladesh. Called Yaba, the drug is currently overwhelming the South Asian country.
Estimates hold that around 7 million of the country's 164 million residents are addicted to drugs. Fully 5 million of them are thought to be hooked on Yaba. A mixture of methamphetamines and caffeine, it makes users feel more confident and energetic. Users tend to forego sleep and eat very little, with many taking the drug to help them work longer hours and earn more money for their families. But others just take it to get high.
The pills are produced in industrial quantities next door in Myanmar before being smuggled into Bangladesh across the southern border. In 2018 alone, security personnel confiscated fully 53 million of the pills.
Officially, alcohol and drugs are prohibited in the Muslim country. Nevertheless, Bangladesh is no small part of the methamphetamine problem in South and East Asia, where confiscations of the synthetic drug rose by a factor of eight in the 10 years between 2007 and 2017 - to fully 82 tons according to the UN's most recent World Drug Report released in 2019. The total represents almost 45 percent of all such seizures around the world.
In an attempt to get the drug problem under control, the government in Dhaka has opted for severity over the last two years in its fight against both drug dealers and users. Violence has been a frequent outcome.
The anti-drug campaign carried out by the Bangladeshi government has been reminiscent of the brutal "War on Drugs" launched by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after he rose to power in June 2016. Suspected drug criminals are essentially executed by Duterte's troops and the offensive has already resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
Amnesty International alleges that the government in Dhaka has been similarly brutal in its treatment of alleged dealers and users. The human rights organization has accused Bangladesh of launching a "wave of extrajudicial killings," claiming that 466 people were killed in 2018 alone as part of the anti-drug campaign. That number, the Amnesty report claims, is three times higher than in 2017 and "the highest in a single year in decades."
In a 2019 report, the organization wrote that the victims were initially apprehended by police or simply disappeared. The authorities, according to the report, consistently tell family members that they have no idea where the suspected drug dealers might be. Later, when their bodies are found, the authorities frequently claim that the victim died in a "gunfight."
French photographer Olivier Jobard and investigative journalist Charles Emptaz have looked into the cases of two men who died in one of these alleged "gunfights" in southern Bangladesh. In the course of their reporting, they uncovered several inconsistencies and give credence to suspicions that the two men were executed by Bangladeshi security personnel.
The following photo gallery is a collection of images taken by Jobard showing the means used by the Bangladeshi authorities in their anti-drug campaign:
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Posted: at 7:12 pm
The Guardia Civil made huge progress in the war against organised crime by taking down five very active drug outlets in Torrevieja.
THE criminal outfits were part of an organisation run by several brothers who had a team of drug dealers operating throughout the city.
In total, five homes were raided as part of this operation, four in Torrevieja and one in San Pedro del Pinatar, with a total of 115 grams of marijuana, 200 grams of a cutting substance, 1 precision scale, 3 doses of a doping substance, and 2 vehicles used to acquire more drugs from the outskirts of Murcia, all being seized. Upon thorough search of the properties, 11,000 in cash was also found.
An investigation began in October 2019 following a complaint from a neighbour about the amount of people moving in and out of a house, which happened at all hours of the day and night.
The extensive investigation eventually resulted in nine people being arrested, all between the ages of 25 and 50, and of Moroccan and Algerian nationalities.
They have all been charged and provisionally released pending trial.
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Posted: at 7:11 pm
The plummeting human rights situation in the Philippines got even worse this week as the government began considering bills to reinstate the death penalty. The move by the House Committee on Justice came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte used his State of the Nation Address to call for capital punishment by lethal injection for drug offenders.
For years, the Philippines put people to death, particularly in cases of so-called heinous crimes. But President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under pressure from the Catholic Church, abolished the death penalty in 2006. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because it is inherently cruel and irreversible.
In 2007, the Philippines ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires countries to abolish the death penalty. Countries that are parties to the covenant and the protocol cannot reinstate the death penalty without violating their obligations under international human rights law. Doing so would also likely result in more than just statements of concern from foreign trade partners such as the European Union.
The Duterte governments overwhelming majority in Congress and continuing efforts to promote its campaign against illegal drugs means the justice committee is likely to support death penalty bills. Dutertes war on drugs has resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 persons at the hands of the Philippine National Police and thousands more by unidentified gunmen. Accountability for these police killings, including those that victimized children, is practically nonexistent.
Adopting the death penalty will mean spilling more blood in the name of Dutertes drug war. It will lead the Philippines to descend further into a rights-violating abyss. And the government will lose credibility and leverage to negotiate on behalf of Filipinos who face execution abroad.
Along with the Philippines withdrawal from the International Criminal Court in March 2019 and its human rights disinformation campaign at the United Nations Human Rights Council, reimposing the death penalty would only serve to further cement the countrys growing reputation as an international human rights pariah.
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Posted: at 7:11 pm
With nearly $32 million available from recreational marijuana taxes, the state expects to award grants next month to help repair damage from the war on drugs, and Springfield hopes to be a player. Mayor Jim Langfelder says the city has applied for a grant that would fund home rehabilitation to help neighborhoods deemed by the state to have been disproportionately impacted by the government's war on drugs. The mayor pegged the request at more than $700,000, which he said was the maximum allowable, and added that the city also has made a smaller request for planning efforts. Both public and private entities are eligible for grants set to be awarded by a state board that includes elected officials and representatives of agencies ranging from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Langfelder says that he's endorsed a grant application submitted by The Outlet, a nonprofit agency that provides mentoring to fatherless kids. Michael Phelon, Outlet founder and chief executive officer, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Posted: at 7:11 pm
For all practical intents, the United States is at war with China. This may come as a surprise since no bullets have been fired nor declarations made. Yet there is little question that, for over a decade, the Chinese government has engaged in a sustained campaign of cyber-enabled economic aggression against us and our allies. They have targeted our most productive economic sectors and are currently winning. But as we restart our economy after Covid-19, we have a unique opportunity to shift this fight decisively back in our favor.
At the heart of this conflict is a series of grand economic competitions across key industries, including telecommunications, advanced computing, robotics, energy generation, resource extraction, aerospace, and the medical sciences, to name just a few. We are currently facing off with China on 5G technology, machine learning, quantum computing, nuclear and solar power, satellites, rare earth metals, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. Fundamental to the Chinese strategy for winning in each of these areasand many moreis the rampant theft of American intellectual property.
The Chinese playbook is deceptively simple: Why spend trillions of dollars on basic science or advanced research when it can be stolen with almost no penalties? The Chinese government is stunningly good at this theft. Not only do they employ thousands of government operatives to engage in this effort, a new federal indictment charges that they have fostered a criminal hacker class that works for its personal economic gain as well as for the Chinese state.
This brazen theft is not just limited to intellectual property. It also involves the pilfering of massive amounts of datafrom the likes of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Equifax, Marriott, and Anthemthat will fuel intelligence operations and train machine learning algorithms, generating economic and political gain for decades.
Chinese companies also look to acquire American technology through investment, acquisition, litigation, and bankruptcy, turning our own markets and courts against us. They masquerade as American companies while under the control of the Chinese government. Even worse, they take advantage of our companies looking to do business in China by extorting them into creating joint ventures, transferring intellectual property, and providing data to the Chinese Communist Party.
They likewise send students and researchers to our best research universities, all the while pressuring them to steal information for the Chinese state. The recent indictment of a Chinese military officer allegedly masquerading as a researcher at Stanford is but one such example. Chinese intelligence agencies likewise seek to co-opt American academics by providing grant funding for joint research projects and invitations to write for cash.
All of this economic warfare is directed at one key goal: to replace the United States as the global leader. Their agents do this by handing over the spoils of the state-run hacking and extortion campaign to Chinese companies which, in turn, exploit Chinese (and other) workers to make goods at reduced cost, selling them back to us and our allies, making us more reliant upon them.
Weve all now seen the price of this reliance in the difficulty many Americans face in getting medical gear and life-saving drugs. But our reliance is hardly limited to these goods. We also rely on China for all manner of finished goods and key inputs, the loss of which could grind our economy to a virtual halt overnight. Indeed, years ago, the Chinese created a plan to make us reliant on them in a dozen key areas. They now see Covid-19 as an opportunity to surge forward. But it need not be so. We have a chance, in this very moment of economic turmoil, to regain the edge.
First, the U.S. government must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our private sector to protect and push back. Just as the Chinese back their companies in competition with us, we must do the same for our industry. We should collect and share actionable threat intelligence and actively collaborate with the private sector to protect them through collective defense. We must also push back, using all elements of national power, to end the Chinese campaign of cyber-enabled economic warfare, including through the use of trade measures, sanctions, persistent cyber engagement, and, where necessary, more aggressive actions. We cannot allow trade deals or our desire for cheap Chinese goods to force us to sit on our hands, leaving our private sector alone to fight this war. Doing so means certain defeat.
Second, we must also work with our allies across the globe, including in the Indo-Pacific region, which the administration has identified as the single most consequential region for our future. Indias recent travails at Chinas hands should be a warning to all in the region and we must reject this aggression just as we have in the South China Sea. Likewise, having brought the British back on board on 5G, we must also now convince Germany to join this unified front. America need not stand alone. Making common cause with our longstanding allies is the right approach.
Finally, as we look to restart our economy, we must incentivize Americans to invest their money here and protect our innovation base. We must create tax and regulatory incentives that encourage investment in American companies struggling to survive and protect their intellectual property. These investors should be able to take advantage of low-cost capital to reorganize and reorient companies working on dual-use technologies to accelerate us into recovery and bring manufacturing and jobs back to the United States.
If we are to preserve this nation and remain a global leader, we cannot permit the continued theft of our childrens future right from under our noses. Now is the time to act.
Gen. (Ret) Keith B. Alexander is the former director of the National Security Agency and Founding Commander of United States Cyber Command, and currently serves as chairman, president and co-CEO of IronNet Cybersecurity, a start-up technology company focused on network threat analytics and collective defense and is on the Board of Advisors for the National Security Institute at George Mason Universitys Scalia Law School. Jamil N. Jaffer is the former chief counsel and senior advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and served in senior national security roles in the George W. Bush Justice Department and White House, and currently serves as senior vice president for strategy, partnerships and corporate development at IronNet Cybersecurity and as the founder and executive director of NSI.
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Juvenile Records Laws Must Be Reformed to Prevent Ongoing Racism – Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
Posted: at 7:11 pm
The juvenile justice system was created 120 years ago to reform and rehabilitate wayward youth to ensure they had the opportunity to achieve productive futures. To this end, it was widely accepted that juvenile system involvement should remain confidential and that all records should be sealed or eradicated to ensure youth a clean slate upon reaching adulthood. Juvenile records laws were enacted to protect the privacy of system-involved youth.
Today, however, the privacy protections afforded by juvenile records laws have hollowed out by loopholes and limitations that make confidentiality the exception more than the rule for many juvenile offenders. The broad accessibility permitted by juvenile records laws combined with technological innovation in data storage and mining make juvenile record information more available than ever. This means, more often than not, that the record of offenses children commit can be accessed by law enforcement, employers, landlords, schools and the public.
The consequences of the loss of juvenile system anonymity are far-reaching for youth and include an inability to secure housing, maintain stable employment and pursue post-secondary opportunities. The impact of these collateral consequences is supported by the data: In college admissions, 62.5% of system-involved youth were discouraged from completing college applications because of a records disclosure requirement, while 20% of applicants who disclosed records information were automatically denied admission.
Of the over 90% of employers who run background checks on applicants, over 40% reported that they would definitely or probably not hire an applicant with a record for a job not requiring a college degree, while 50% were less likely to call back or extend a job offer. Furthermore, 11% of these employers reported that even an applicant with a minor criminal infraction would not be hired. The existence of a juvenile record may also foreclose a young person and/or their entire family from securing public housing.
Black youth suffer the collateral consequences of juvenile record disclosure most severely. It is widely known that Black youth are subject to disproportionate system involvement. It is less widely recognized, however, that the records of this disproportionate system involvement enable a disproportionate level of racial discrimination long after their actual system involvement is over.
While Black youth represent only 15% of the U.S. population between the ages of 10-17, they represent 26% of all juvenile arrests and 30% of all delinquency referrals. Black youth represent 45% of all preadjudication decisions and 46% of cases transferred to adult criminal court. These records are all searchable by and available to the individuals with power to provide youth opportunities.
So why is a system intended to rehabilitate kids being used to mark them for a lifetime of discrimination?
The answer lies in the changing nature of Americas own unique brand of institutionalized racism over the last century. As a result of sweeping civil rights victories in the 1960s, America increasingly relied on the criminalization of Black people, and especially Black children, to justify continued oppression and inequality.
From the war on drugs to the myth of the child superpredator, racist stereotypes of Black people and particularly Black youth, together with discriminatory policies (like Broken Windows and stop-and-frisk) afforded white America the opportunity to transform skin color into a record of system involvement that could legally justify continued discrimination.
Harsh punishments enacted in the 1990s amplified the stakes of early system involvement mandatory sentencing schemes, youth transfer and new three strikes laws ushered in our modern era of mass incarceration. Under this system of white supremacy, juvenile records laws that afford broad access transform juvenile missteps into life sentences that serve to immobilize and disenfranchise Black communities.
In 2014, Juvenile Law Center published the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of each states juvenile records laws. The results of that study demonstrated that, as measured against best practices, over 50% of states fail to adequately protect juveniles from the consequences of juvenile records. Now, six years later, a new juvenile record scorecard report shows continued and widespread deficiencies in the protections necessary to keep juvenile records secure.
Recognizing that broad access to juvenile records advances inequality and systemic racism and holds kids back from achieving their full potential, it is imperative that every state review its records laws and take all steps necessary to protect our youths right to privacy by mandating automatic sealing and expungement of juvenile records.
Andrew Keats is a staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center, where his work currently focuses on addressing economic justice and equity and second chances for youth in the juvenile justice system and youth tried as adults in the criminal justice system. Before that he spent a decade as a litigator with a leading global law firm in Los Angeles and New York, where he litigated a broad range of complex commercial disputes plus securities, class action, bankruptcy and real estate matters.
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