Sunlight Foundation: Blacks Injured by Police at 5 Times the Rate of Whites

The Sunlight Foundation has a fascinating look at the racial disparities in non-fatal injuries inflicted by police based on emergency room visits from 2001-2012.

Using the available data, a comparison of estimates obtained from the CDC’s Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) to national census population counts shows that black people suffered over five times as many nonfatal injuries per capita from law enforcement as white people did cumulatively over the years 2001-2012.


Sunlight Foundation Chart on Racial Disparity in Non-Fatal Injuries By Police

Indian Police Lose Password to Corruption Reporting System . . . For Eight Years

These police must really take their corruption-fighting job seriously.

Police in India have failed to act on hundreds of corruption complaints over an eight-year period because they did not know a computer password, it seems.

Delhi officers could not operate a portal holding more than 600 complaints – a lapse that has gone undetected since 2006, the Indian Express Newspaper said. The complaints came from India’s anti-corruption agency, called the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

But two senior police officers have now been trained in the system, and can access the 667 cases that have piled up since the portal launched. One officer told the paper the oversight was “a technical problem”, and complaints are now being addressed.

Why Is the Obama Administration Arguing to Overturn Michigan v. Jackson?

Part of the background noise about Barack Obama when he was a candidate was that, as someone who had taught Constitutional law, he would have more respect for the Constitution and its principles than Those Other Guys(TM). So far, though, it doesn’t seem to be working out that way.

For example, the U.S. Solicitor General filed an amicus brief in a case urging the Supreme Court to overturn its 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling. The decision in Michigan v. Jackson is pretty straightforward — when a suspect has requested legal representation at an arraignment or other court proceeding, the suspect cannot waive that right unless he or she initiates communication with police.

Writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote,

Edwards is grounded in the understanding that “the assertion of the right to counsel [is] a significant event,” 451 U.S. at 451 U.S. 485, and that “additional safeguards are necessary when the accused asks for counsel.” Id. at 451 U.S. 484. We conclude that the assertion is no less significant, and the need for additional safeguards no less clear, when the request for counsel is made at an arraignment and when the basis for the claim is the Sixth Amendment. We thus hold that, if police initiate interrogation after a defendant’s assertion, at an arraignment or similar proceeding, of his right to counsel, any waiver of the defendant’s right to counsel for that police-initiated interrogation is invalid. Although the Edwards decision itself rested on the Fifth Amendment and concerned a request for counsel made during custodial interrogation, the Michigan Supreme Court correctly perceived that the reasoning of that case applies with even greater force to these cases.

The position of the Obama administration, however, is that this rule is no longer needed as there are plenty of other rules and procedures in place to prevent police coercion of suspects.

But as an amicus brief (PDF) in support of Michigan v. Jackson filed by former prosecutors and other law enforcement officials noted,

. . . Jackson links two key criminal procedural rights — the Sixth Amendment right to counsel under Gideon v. Wainwright and the Fifth Amendment rights of an accused under Miranda — which are fundamental to the adversary process and maintain public confidence in our criminal justice system. Discarding Jackson would undermine both rights. Allowing the police to initiate interrogation of a represented defendant and to use any resulting statements would strip away protections the attorney can provide, interfere with the relationship between counsel and client, and undercut the integrity of criminal trials…To abandon a rule that safeguards them would erode the public confidence they foster. It would signal that enduring legal principles and important constitutional rights are no longer so enduring nor so important.

It would not have been surprising at all to see the Bush administration argue to dispense with such restrictions on police power. With the Obama administration, however, its a bit shocking to realize just how far separated the reality is from the high-minded rhetoric.