Implicit Bias and Law Enforcement

Racial profiling has been an obvious point of contention between law enforcement and minority group members. Over the past decade, the term “bias-based policing” has been coined, and the subject has been the topic of much research and debate. It often paints the picture of ill-intentioned officers deliberately acting upon preconceived stereotypes and prejudices. What if, perhaps, there was another answer?

In the spring of 2010, professor Jerry Kang from the UCLA School of Law presented to Connecticut judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police administrators on the topic of implicit, or hidden, bias. His talk shed light on what has become an increasingly popular subject in social science circles. In brief, researchers contend that implicit biases are predilections held by all that operate largely outside of one’s awareness. Although hidden, these biases are both pervasive and powerful.1 Much research on the topic has focused on racial bias and has netted some intriguing results.

While the science does have its detractors, the growing research and potential implications for the criminal justice field make this a topic with which all law enforcement personnel should be familiar. The reader may find this article to be interesting, provocative, and enlightening—or some combination of the three. The purpose of this piece is to raise awareness on a topic that is growing in popularity and that has begun to emerge in the criminal justice system. It is up to readers to decide whether the science is relevant and pertinent to their lives and their workplaces.

The article discusses implicit bias, the latest testing and research into the phenomenon, and practical approaches for law enforcement interventions as recommended by social scientists in the field.

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Justice Department Announces New Department-Wide Implicit Bias Training for Personnel

June 27, 2016

The Department of Justice announced that it will train all of its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to recognize and address implicit bias as part of its regular training curricula. The new training, based on the latest social science research and best practices in law enforcement, will begin across the department in the next few weeks. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates sent a memo to all law enforcement agents and prosecutors today informing them of the new Implicit Bias Training Program and its importance to a strong and fair criminal justice system.

“Our officers are more effective and our communities are more secure when law enforcement has the tools and training they need to address today’s public safety challenges,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “At the Department of Justice, we are committed to ensuring that our own personnel are well trained in the core principles and best practices of community policing. Today’s announcement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all Americans deserve.”

Click HERE to read the entire article. 

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Killed by Police

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, joining a long roll call of black people killed by officials acting in the name of public safety. And so the nation now begins a process so familiar as to have become rote.  Read the full article here.

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is a group of physicians advocating to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system.  Alton and Philando have suffered the ultimate of damaging health consequences — death.  Our website has been inundated with visits.  Our membership has nearly doubled in the last two days.  Physicians are ready to speak out, and we are ready to lead change.

Please know that even if you are not a physician, we need your voice as an allied supporter.  It is our duty to use our expertise and our passion to effect true, meaningful, lasting criminal justice reform in this country.

You will be hearing from us soon with specific steps for how to get involved.  Go to www.pfcjreform.org/join to stay informed.

 

 

 

For Police, A Playbook for Conflicts Involving Mental Illness

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders. 

As reported by the New York Times online.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The 911 caller had reported a man with a samurai sword, lunging at people on the waterfront.

It was evening, and when the police arrived, they saw the man pacing the beach and called to him. He responded by throwing a rock at the embankment where they stood.

They shouted to him from a sheriff’s boat; he threw another rock. They told him to drop the sword; he said he would kill them. He started to leave the beach, and after warning him, they shot him in the leg with a beanbag gun. He turned back, still carrying the four-foot blade.

In another city — or in Portland itself not that long ago — the next step would almost certainly have been a direct confrontation and, had the man not put down the weapon, the use of lethal force.

But the Portland Police Bureau, prodded in part by the 2012 findings of a Justice Department investigation, has spent years putting in place an intensive training program and protocols for how officers deal with people with mental illness.

Read the entire article.

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

Three state juvenile lockups selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions

From www.chron.com:

Three state juvenile lockups that have been plagued by training and operational problems as officials struggled to deal with a more violent population of incarcerated youths have been selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions.

David Reilly, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, announced Monday that the Giddings State School, Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg and the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart will be included in the 18-month program.

Three other agencies across the country will also participate: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice;
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and StarrVista, Inc. in Wayne County, Michigan.

The project is being overseen by the national Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University.

Reilly said the project at the three Texas lockups will include training and technical assistance to help his agency improve educational and rehabilitation programming, behavioral management and health care, and transition planning to ensure success for youths after they are released from custody.

Read the entire article www.chron.com

Click here to JOIN Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

‘Fetal assault bill’ may lead to more drug treatment funding for pregnant women

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.

An impassioned and unresolved controversy over whether to continue criminal prosecution of women who give birth to drug-addicted babies has birthed a bipartisan and unanimous committee crusade to spend more state money on treatment for addiction.  Highlights from the article:

  • All members of the state House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, where the opposing sides argued emotionally and at length about the “fetal assault bill” last week, signed on afterward to a proposed state budget amendment that would provide $10 million in new funding “for the sole purpose of drug addiction treatment services for pregnant women and newborn babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.”
  • The bill, HB1660, appeared on the verge of defeat after a Sevier County judge who presides over a drug court joined others in telling legislators that a two-year experiment in authorizing prosecution of addicted mothers has been a failure.
  • Patrick said the law discourages mothers “from being forthcoming” and seeking help they need. He also said the law ignores alcohol abuse by expectant mothers, a far more common problem — although drug addiction is growing, mostly because of illegal use of opioid prescription drugs.

Read the entire article online at KnoxBlogs.com

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as a physician or allied member as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

PRESS RELEASE: PfCJR Officially Partners with the Campaign for Youth Justice to Raise the Age

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR), which advocates to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system, has officially partnered with Campaign for Youth Justice, a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

(DECATUR – March 9, 2016) – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is pleased to support advocacy efforts of the Campaign for Youth Justice by officially partnering to lend the collective voice of our physician members to the national initiative to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Medical literature reflects that adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for long-term consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, youth in adult jails and prisons are more likely to be sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and, upon release, are more likely to re-offend than youth housed in juvenile facilities. Each of those experiences, as well as early developmental experiences that put youth and adolescents at risk for involvement with the criminal justice system, result in long-lasting, negative physical and mental health consequences that could be avoided by juvenile justice reform that identifies and diverts at-risk youth.

Osvaldo Gaytan, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform’s Juvenile Justice Taskforce and a physician with specialties in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuropharmacology and early childhood trauma states “Children and adolescents are our future. I think we can all agree on that. As doctors, it is our duty to make a united stand against environmental factors that affect both the mental and physical health outcomes of our patients. Every bit of evidence we have as physicians points to the fact that adolescent brains do not function in an equal capacity as adult brains. Therefore, it is not scientifically sound to equate the functioning of an adolescent brain with that of an adult. It is unjust.”

Please join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform and the Campaign for Youth Justice on insisting that the legal age for being treated as an adult be raised to 18 years of age as a national standard.

 

About PfCJR:

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) was founded by a group of physicians who were struck by the myriad of ways that negative encounters with the criminal justice system lead to detrimental health consequences. We firmly believe that changing the interaction between the criminal justice system and individuals of targeted populations will ultimately lead to improved health of targeted communities.

 

When the Hospital Fires the Bullet

PfCJR CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders

The New York Times is bringing needed attention to the story of Alan Pean, violence in hospitals, and police brutality in interactions with the mentally ill. This incident is not new to us at Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, as we reported on Alan in our blog six months ago. He was shot, in the chest, by security officers while voluntarily admitted for psychiatric care. Luckily, he has survived to tell his story and fight against the unbelievable charges levied on him by prosecutors with the help of his loving family that includes a physician and two aspiring physicians. We commend the New York Times for bringing attention to this critical issue, one which all physicians should be able to get behind.

#MedicineNotBullets

For more, please read the article on the New York Times website:

http://nyti.ms/1QZAMvp

Connecticut Governor Proposes New Criminal Justice Reforms

Physician for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth. 

According to News 8 wtnh.com:

Gov. Malloy released the second part of his criminal justice reform that he plans to bring to the Legislature this year. It’s called Second Chance 2.0, and is aimed at the youngest of adult offenders. Under his proposal, non-violent offenders will be treated as juveniles up until the age of 21.

Malloy cites research that the human brain isn’t fully formed until 25, for reasons to up the juvenile age.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article. 

Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at risk adolescents.

As reported by the Washington Post:

President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

Highlights:

  • In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement.
  • The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.
  • While Obama is leaving the details of policy implementation to agency officials, the Justice Department’s report includes “50 guiding principles” that all federal correctional facilities must now follow.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.