Fuck Yeah Drug Policy

5 Reasons Why This Week Was Historic for Ending America’s War on Drugs and Cruel Incarceration Policies | AlterNet

2. NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Ruled Unconstitutional

Last Monday, a federal judge ruled that the New York Police Department’s use of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, violating the rights of minorities in New York City. Judge Shira Scheindlin’s ruling is a blow to the crime fighting legacy of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly, who credit police stops with reducing major crime in the city to historic lows. But according to Scheindlin, the crime-fighting efficacy of the policy is irrelevant. “Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime…but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used, no matter how effective,” she wrote in her 195-page decision. She concluded that stop-and-frisk demonstrates an institutional disregard for the Fourth Amendment—which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government—as well as the Equal Protection Clause under the 14th Amendment.

The judge accused the NYPD of institutionalizing a “policy of indirect racial profiling” under which police routinely stop innocent “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” Though she claimed she was “not ordering an end to the practice of stop-and-frisk,” she called for a number of reforms to be made, including the use of cameras worn on patrol officers to record street encounters across the city. The judge also ordered the appointment of the police department’s first-ever independent monitor to oversee broad changes to its policies, naming private attorney Peter Zimroth, who was the city’s top lawyer in the late ’80s, to monitor the constitutionality of the NYPD’s practices. “No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin wrote in her decision, citing the “demeaning and humiliating experience” that defines the “human toll of unconstitutional stops,” according to testimony of individuals who describe being stopped.

Though blacks and Hispanics account for a little over 50 percent of the city’s population, they are involved in about 83 percent of the 4.4 million police stops that occurred between 2004 and 2012. And most of them are not criminals. "Nearly 90 percent of the people stopped are released without the officer finding any basis for a summons or an arrest," Scheindlin countered in reference to Bloomberg and Kelly’s claim that the stops reflect the disproportionate percentage of crimes committed by minorities. Mayor Bloomberg said Scheindlin had misinterpreted what the Constitution allowed and announced that the city will file a notice of appeal today (Friday). The mayor said he hoped stop-and-frisk will continue through the end of his term, because he “wouldn’t want to be responsible for a lot of people dying,” and said it would be irresponsible of the next mayor to stop the appeal.

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