Category: police corruption

The fine art of testilying

By Charles Kiker

The ninth of the ten commandments: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16)

In his “Grits for Breakfast” blog, Scott Henson has a recent post (March 16) on “testilying” raised to new heights of infamy: “Police prevarication in Austin overlooked with wink and a nod.” It regards an incident from a couple of years ago in which an Austin police officer manufactured out of whole cloth a probable cause affidavit for unlawful trespassing. The officer described in detail the area in which the defendant was charged with trespassing. It was described as a heavily wooded area with numerous signs against trespassing. In fact, the area described was a multi-unit rental area devoid of “no trespassing” signs with only one tree in view. The defense attorney took pictures of the area and the prosecutor, at the pre-trial conference, decided that it was in the best interests of justice to dismiss the case. Hurrah for the prosecutor. (more…)

Can we end mass incarceration without mentioning race?

By Alan Bean

The criminal justice reform movement has two distinct branches that may have trouble sharing a common message or strategy.

The first branch of reformers is best represented by Michelle Alexander’s “New Jim Crow” thesis.  Alexander sees the war on drugs as primarily an assault on poor people of color.  Reformers, she argues, have either avoided racial arguments altogether, or have focused on Rosa Parks-type defendants who transcend racial stereotypes.  Consider this quote from her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:

Challenging mass incarceration requires something civil rights advocates have long been reluctant to do: advocacy on behalf of criminals. Even at the height of Jim Crow segregation—when black men were more likely to be lynched than to receive a fair trial in the South—NAACP lawyers were reluctant to advocate on behalf of blacks accused of crimes unless the lawyers were convinced of the men’s innocence . . . outside of the death penalty arena, civil rights advocates have long been reluctant to leap to the defense of accused criminals. Advocates have found they are most successful when they draw attention to certain types of black people (those who are easily understood by mainstream whites as ‘good’ and ‘respectable’) and tell certain types of stories about them. Since the days when abolitionists struggled to eradicate slavery, racial justice advocates have gone to great lengths to identify black people who defy racial stereotypes, and they have exercised considerable message discipline, telling only those stories of racial injustice that will evoke sympathy among whites. (more…)

Simple Justice reviews “Taking out the Trash in Tulia, Texas”

“That Alan Bean chose to keep his narrative close to the vest, to let the facts do the talking for him rather than ram the moral of this sordid story down the reader’s throat, makes this book a fascinating and consuming read. Be prepared, as once you start reading Taking Out The Trash, chances are you won’t put the book down until you’ve finished.”

Scott Greenfield’s review of Alan Bean’s book, “Taking out the Trash in Tulia, Texas” originally appeared in Scott’s highly respected blog, Simple Justice.

Book Review: Taking Out The Trash in Tulia, Texas

I’ve never been to Tulia. There’s no particular reason why I would go there, and yet after reading Alan Bean’s book, Taking Out The Trash in Tulia, Texas, published by Advanced Concept Design Books, I feel as if I know the place well. (more…)

Death penalty dies a slow death in Illinois

By Alan Bean

Eight years ago, Illinois Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on the death penalty when it was revealed that many “confessions” were coerced.  In Chicago, for instance, commander Jon Burge allegedly tortured one hundred eight men between 1973 and 1991.  Now, the Illinois legislature has voted to make Ryan’s moratorium permanent and hopes are high that current governor Pat Quinn will sign the legislation.

This Chicago Tribune editorial demonstrates that compassion for murderers has little to do with the demise of the death penalty in Illinois.  Few Americans want to be associated with rank injustice.  When the system is so broken that innocent men are certain to die, support for the ultimate punishment plummets.  (more…)

Glover verdict in New Orleans raises more questions than it answers

By Alan Bean

On December 9, a federal jury in New Orleans convicted two police officers for burning the corpse of Henry Glover, violating civil rights, obstructing justice, and misleading federal investigators.  The jury also convicted an ex-officer of shooting Glover with a .223 caliber assault rifle. 

Has justice been served, or does this verdict raise more questions about the New Orleans police force than it answers?

Writing for ProPublica, A.C. Thompson, prefaces his article with a troubling statement:

“I’ve been reporting in New Orleans for more than three years, and I can say I’ve never encountered more people who are terrified of the police. Looking at the sad and awful death of Henry Glover, it’s easy to see why.” (more…)