Thursday, May 28, 2015

inside the complex legal infrastructure that encourages — and covers up — overseer violence


rollingstone |  Broken Windows has left a major footprint on modern American society, primarily on the 65 million or so people who have criminal records in this country. That's a population roughly the size of France.

You can easily find the collateral damage from this vast illegal war on crime just by walking into certain neighborhoods and asking. From bad arrests to beatings to broken bones, there are enough horror stories to fill a thousand Ken Burns documentaries. But good luck finding any of that misconduct and abuse on an official record. What you mostly find when you search are a lot of convictions and a whole lot of statistical noise. The dirt, as it often is in this country, is mostly hidden away.

The real problem with Broken Windows is that it brings the same attitude to neighborhoods that corrections officers bring to prisons. "You have guys locked up for serious crimes, you're supposed to be controlling them," says Anthony Miranda. "But in neighborhoods, you're not supposed to be controlling people. You're supposed to be working with them. You're supposed to be serving them. And that attitude is what's missing."

As a former minority officer, Miranda says he and others like him are especially motivated to find solutions: "We're on both sides. We're in the force, but we also live in these neighborhoods. So we need to find an answer."

But the numbers game has rotted the police system to the point where it can't see the forest for the trees. "They don't see it," says Miranda. "They're too ignorant, and it's a shame."