The criminal justice system is heavily impacted by the bias of a police mentality, as well as outdated judicial precedents.
Evidence suggests that many individuals are incarcerated not solely because of their crime, but because of racially disparate policies, beliefs and practices, causing collateral consequences to their families and the extended community. Unwarranted levels of incarceration worsens racial disparities and is problematic not only for the impacted group, but for society as whole, weakening the justice system’s potential and undermining perceptions of justice.
For example: across the nation, we prepare for rioting if justice is not served in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
While acknowledging these factors, the nation’s imprisonment rate is at its lowest level in more than two decades. The greatest decline has come among Black Americans, whose imprisonment rate has decreased 34 percent since 2006 at the same time crime rates have continuously dropped.
Unfortunately, Maryland has the highest incarceration rate for Blacks in the nation. Time for a revamp.
The Maryland legislature just passed landmark police reform. The legislation will overhaul the disciplinary process for officers accused of misconduct, allow public scrutiny of complaints and internal affairs files, and create a new legal standard requiring that police use only “necessary” and “proportional” force. Officers who use excessive force will face additional criminal penalties, including up to 10 years in prison. Also, police will be limited on when they can obtain so-called “no-knock” warrants or raid homes at night.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for professional policing. But not for taking an arrestees on a joy ride in a police van, leading to their death. Or chasing down a harmless undocumented female immigrant on her lunch break, then separating her from her children for days. Not to mention placing your knee on someone’s neck for over 9 minutes. That’s not policing.