Criminal justice has been on my mind this year. I just finished reading the third book for the social justice book club (hosted by Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm), which have all had a criminal justice focus. Today you’re getting seven criminal justice links.
Put It in Perspective
Why criminal justice? One of my favorite quotes from the first social justice book club book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is still this one:
We are more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.
Link 1: I shared some thoughts about Just Mercy and that quote here.
Link 2: I kept thinking about Stephenson’s quote while reading this month’s book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
Alexander did a nice job summing up the danger of a society that doesn’t see people as more than the worst thing they’ve done.
Criminals are the one social group in America we have permission to hate.
Kerry asked us what surprised us most about Alexander’s book. To me, the most shocking things stem from this idea of “permission to hate.”
What Happens When We Hate?
Permission to hate is a great opportunity for police state tactics to emerge. The Fourth Amendment is intended to protect us from unwarranted search and seizure, but in the past few decades our rights have slowly eroded in several key supreme court cases that Alexander summarizes in her book.
Link 3: Supreme Court Justice Douglas puts it nicely in his dissent in Terry v Ohio.
To give the police greater power than a magistrate [judge] is to take a long step down the totalitarian path.
As we’ve seen in the past year or so, these stops and searches can and have turned deadly. Link 4: That’s why I love Zeynep Tufekci’s thoughts on this topic in this Twitter thread.
Permission to hate also manifests itself:
In prison conditions. Link 5: Ramen is the new cigarettes in the informal prison economy, due to the fact that, “cost-cutting at detention facilities has many inmates complaining they’re not getting enough to eat.”
In the application of the death penalty. Link 6: The Supreme Court has considered it cruel and unusual to execute someone who is “intellectually disabled” for 14 years, but they let each state define “intellectual disability.” This year the Supreme Court is looking at whether the Texas definition of intellectually disabled (based on a fictional character in a Steinbeck novel) violates the 8th amendment.
And it affects men and women. Link 7: The Equal Justice Initiative delves into the “exploding U.S. female prison population.”
Have you read anything worth sharing about criminal justice lately? Share in the comments.