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30 Crim. Just. 1 (2015-2016)

handle is hein.journals/cjust30 and id is 1 raw text is: 










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   .         . . . . . .  .
               .         N. .. . . .
BY  .Y  T  I .UA .ORR ......


       s an Air Force dependent growing ip in Spain
       and  other exotic places, my playmates were
       many  races and cultures. They spoke beauti-
ful languages and carried intriguing tales, legends, and
beliefs. Our babysitter's warning that we stay clear of
gypsies, because they would snatch us away from home,
only drew us to the music, colorful dress, and joyous
abandon  that these nomads' children appeared to enjoy.
   As I got older, watching television news about the
civil rights struggles, racial violence, and the Vietnam
War  made me  feel shock and horror. And smack in the
middle of taking these in, I was amazed at the wonder
of the lunar landing.
   We  are a nation of contrasts.
Wonderful  scientific and life-say-
ing medical advancements  travel
alongside ignorance  and hatred,        ..' .... *
Some  of our most revered political
figures will destroy their reputa-
tions in a flash with a display of
ignorance or hubris. And our lead-
ers also come to understand, and
publicly accept, what was popular
to reject or ostracize just months earlier.
   I cannot help but believe that we will soon also come
to our senses reearding the enormous racial inequalities
that have been accepted for far too long in our crimi-
nal justice system. It has taken embarrassingly too long
to begin to correct the crack/powder cocaine sentenc-
ing inequity brought on by ignorant beliefs. The early
court opinions upholding these laws recalled for me
the tortured legal logic of Plessy v Ferguson, defend-
ing yesterday's racial segregation.
   Dweling  on justifications and defensive explanations
for our shameful unequal imprisonment  of black and
brown  people is much the same. It is not productive
or honest. The suggestion that there is more crime or
drug  abuse in poor communities is just not true. (See
Suniya S. Luthar, The Problem with Rich Kids, PsYciHoL.

CYNH\A R .U   AR     is a 2014--2015 chair ofthe Criminal
Justice Section and a cririnal definse lawver with Goldstein,
Goldstein & Hilley in San Antonio, Texas, where her practice
focuses on white-col!ar crime. In addition, she is active in
criminal justice reform.


C'
it


TODAY, Nov. 5, 2013 (revealing greater drug, theft, and
property crimes among  affluent youth).)
   When  my  dad retired from the Air Force, the nice
community  where  I lived had just as much petty theft
by kids seeking money for drugs as in the part of town
where lower-income kids lived. Kids got in fights, used
drugs, and drove too fast just as much in Country Club
Estates as they did in public housing. They just were
dealt with differently. Some of my public school class-
mates went  to military schools and nature camps for
rehab while others were hobbled for life after stints in
juvenile custody and then jail.
                      Merely  hypothesizing  about
                    why this happens is a waste of time.
                    Ve  need to identify these prob-
                    lems and go about solving them. A
 U S  CF  I''       good example of what works is the
                    ABA  Racial Justice Improvement
 '         V        Project. In diverse locations such
                    as Brooklyn  and New  Orleans,
                    Madison  and St. Louis, the proj-
                    ect invites stakeholders to invest in
                    correcting racial inequities in crim-
inal justice. A very small investment of monies from the
ABA   and grants (from the Bureau of Justice Assistance,
Office of Justice Programs, and US Department of Jus-
tice), with the expertise and sw-eat equity of ABA Criminal
Justice Section and Individual Rights and Responsibilities
Section members have accomplished great things: equal
use of diversion programs, increased use of parole and
probation, better reentry programs, decriminalization of
minor wrongs, and myriad other reforms.
   Communities   that are invested in solutions, not
explanations  or excuses, achieve good  results. In
communities   accepted for our project's assistance,
law enforcement, prosecutors, defenders, the courts,
and community   activists engaged in these solutions.
They  identified and established the problems, backed
their beliefs with empirical data, and set about solv-
ing inequities through trust and collaboration. Not all
communities  made the cut. It took an investment by all
stakeholders in problem solving. Sadly, communities
engrossed in recriminations were left behind.


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