I am starting a blog post on the IAHR website to share my thoughts about the current protests over police violence and the endemic racism in our society. I plan to relate the current events to conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. The protests which have followed the killing of George Floyd have understandably focused on police violence directed against people of color, especially African-American men.
There have been calls to "defund the police." Last night on MSNBC, Maya Wiley, former board chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), framed the issue very well. For the last generation or more, crime has decreased in much of the country, especially in NYC. Yet, while incidents of violent crime have plummeted, police budgets continue to rise way out of proportion to social service agency budgets. People who call for defunding the police are demanding that police budgets be cut because crime prevention has been successful. On the other hand, crushing poverty, widespread illicit drug use, and inadequate educational budgets continue to afflict communities of color. African-Americans are saying that police budgets should at a minimum not increase and funds dedicated to increased police budgets should be invested in devastated communities. For instance, DC Mayor Bowser included in her budget, just recently released, a 3.3% budget increase. She also included a budget request to increase the number of students in the Police Cadet Academy from 100 to 150. It is time to really refashion budget priorities so that more resources can be devoted to uplifting struggling communities. More tomorrow.