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January 15, 2007

Honoring MLK by asking hard questions

In this post on MLK day last year, I asked whether criminal justice reform should be the new civil rights movement and made this observation:

From my sentencing-centric perspective, reflecting on a day honoring Martin Luther King leads me to the view that Dr. King, were he still alive, would be focused on criminal justice reforms. So many aspects of the criminal justice system — from racial profiling to jury selection, from drug sentencing to the administration of the death penalty — highlight that our system is not color-blind (or at least not color-neutral). And, because of felon disenfranchisement and other collateral consequences, the enduring impact of a racially skewed criminal justice system cannot be overstated.

This year, in addition to encouraging everyone to take 15 minutes to watch all of Dr. King's amazing "I Have a Dream" speech (available here), I also want to encourage everyone to continue asking hard questions about how race (and class) can infect the operation of our criminal justice system in light of some of the posts highlighted below:

January 15, 2007 at 09:25 AM | Permalink


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This has nothing to do with prison sentences but the practice of having a defendant serve their jail sentence prior to conviction (person is detained in jail and then sentenced to time served) is rather common. The attitude is that "they are guilty and when we get time we will prove it" (where in practice the matter is frequently decided by a plea bargain). The judges and prosecutors obviously do not hold the notion that one is innocent until proven guilty in high esteem.

Posted by: John Neff | Jan 15, 2007 2:06:40 PM

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