Stop and Frisk the Research!
By Betsy L. Angert empathyeducates
Mayor Bloomberg, your supporters, Attorney General Eric Holder, Mister President, the Justice Department, and all you other big city Mayors that think stop-and-frisk is fine please, sit down. Take a break. Stop and Think! Breathe deeply and ask yourselves; is it not time to stop weighing Constitutionality and think psychology. If pondering the science is a bit too weighty, please consider our children! Our young men and yes, young women need to be seen not for the color of their skin, but for the color of their character!
If it is a challenge to see the beauty that is other than skin deep when people are out on the street, then contemplate the cash. Juvenile Incarceration is costly; $5 billion to confine and house young offenders in “confinement” facilities despite evidence that shows alternative in-home or community-based programs can deliver equal or better results for a fraction of the cost. As stated in the Annie E. Casey report “Juvenile correctional facilities do not reduce future offending.” These dollars might have been spent on education and could be if we choose to stop-and-think, read the research, or reflect.
Put yourself in the place of a young Black or Brown teen or remember when you were young. When walking with friends down the boulevard, did adults look at you cautiously? Did people step aside or cross the street as though they hoped to escape an altercation? When in a store did management follow you, even if only with their eyes? Oh, it happens to white teens too. When you are youthful you are fruitful in the sense that you are ripe for victimization. If you are a young adult of color, watch out. Consider the circumstances of a Community College student, Nicholas K. Peart, 23.
I was 14, my mother told me not to panic if a police officer stopped me. And she cautioned me to carry ID and never run away from the police or I could be shot. In the nine years since my mother gave me this advice, I have had numerous occasions to consider her wisdom.
One evening in August of 2006, I was celebrating my 18th birthday with my cousin and a friend. We were staying at my sister’s house on 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and decided to walk to a nearby place and get some burgers. It was closed so we sat on benches in the median strip that runs down the middle of Broadway. We were talking, watching the night go by, enjoying the evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere, squad cars surrounded us. A policeman yelled from the window, “Get on the ground!”
I was stunned. And I was scared. Then I was on the ground – with a gun pointed at me. I couldn’t see what was happening but I could feel a policeman’s hand reach into my pocket and remove my wallet. Apparently he looked through and found the ID I kept there. “Happy Birthday,” he said sarcastically. The officers questioned my cousin and friend, asked what they were doing in town, and then said goodnight and left us on the sidewalk.
Contemplate the cost on a young person’s life. Our youth live in fear of what night happen, as do their parents. Siblings too suffer. Reputations are ruined. Respect is lost. Commit a crime or not, once stopped, suspicion lingers. Scars can be deep. The repercussions can fracture a family and also break the city’s bank.
If the personal is too touchy, and you think practical concerns must be our priority then let us look at the return on our “investment” and the results. The dollars spent on mass incarceration impair our nation! In New York City alone, in 2011, $185.6 million was spent to settle legal claims against the police department. This marked a 35 percent increase from the year before, according to a report by New York City Comptroller John Liu. Liu stated that while it is impossible to calculate the exact legal cost of stop-and-frisk lawsuits it is undeniable that the expense associated with the policy is high. Suits that address civil rights violations, excessive force and unlawful arrest, are frequently inherent in stop-and-frisk cases Liu said.
The New York Civil Liberties Union stated that, as of March 2013, the police department was nearing 5 million stop and frisks. Of the 4.4 million stops recorded, more than 86 percent of the people involved were black or Latino, and 88 percent of these interactions did not lead to an arrest or citation requiring a court appearance, NYCLU said. Twelve percent is quite the gain, you might say. Obviously, juvenile incarceration is worth the price or is it.
Again, let us stop and think. “Numerous states have closed facilities or lowered correctional populations, reaping significant savings for taxpayers without any measurable increase in youth crime.”
What is so wrong with juvenile incarceration? The case against America’s youth prisons and correctional training schools can be neatly summarized in six words: dangerous, ineffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful, and inadequate. ~ No Place For Kids. The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Yet, the beat goes on. Currently, the U.S. Offers Conditional Support for Police Monitor in Stop-and-Frisk Case. The question is why “monitor”? Why not read the research or remember your own experiences. We were each shaped in our youth. Were we presumed guilty even when innocent…innocent as 88 percent who stopped-frisked-and-let-go or as Nicholas K. Peart is and was. Let us look at Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Integrity.
5 Reasons to Act Now on Juvenile Justice Reform:
Is that because a lot more kids in America are committing violent acts and getting arrested for them? No; they’re not. It’s largely because our juvenile justice system incarcerates many young people for low-level offenses and technical violations, and shortchanges investment in evidence-based alternatives that can save money and make communities safer.
Here are five reasons to act now on youth justice reform:
1. Overreliance on incarceration is unnecessary.
Many young people in juvenile correctional facilities are incarcerated for low-level and nonviolent offenses. In 2010, for example, of the 59,000 youths under age 18 confined in juvenile facilities in the U.S., only 1 in 4 was detained or committed for a serious violent offense. About 12,700 kids (1 in 5) were confined only for status offenses (such as truancy, curfew violation, or running away) or technical violations (such as failing to report to a parole officer).
A number of states have shifted their youth justice policies away from overreliance on incarceration, with no accompanying increase in juvenile crime.
3. Evidence-based alternatives work.
A large body of research shows that alternatives to incarceration, including diversion, community-based supervision, and evidence-based interventions, reduce re-offending, even among youths who have committed serious offenses.
For a minority of young offenders deemed a threat to public safety, the success of the Missouri model suggests that smaller facilities, closer to youth’s homes and focused intensely on safety, youth development, and family involvement, reduce recidivism and increase educational progress compared to juvenile correctional facilities.
4. It’s time for government to stop wasting our money and young people’s futures.
It costs American taxpayers about $88,000 to keep one youth incarcerated for one year. In contrast, an evidence-based intervention such as Functional Family Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, or Multisystemic Therapy costs less than a tenth as much and yields a positive return on investment-while actually helping kids and reducing crime.
Incarceration often disrupts a young person’s education, and many youths don’t return to school after being incarcerated. Individuals incarcerated as juveniles are at higher risk (even after controlling for other factors) for being unemployed even years later in adulthood. That doesn’t help anyone.
5. The American people get it.
According to a recent national survey, 3 out of 4 Americans agree that the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration and should provide youth with more opportunities to better themselves.
How can you act now to reform youth justice?
Connect with groups working on state-based reforms.