Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood

Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood

Using SWAT officers to storm into homes to execute search warrants has led time
and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, and costly legal settlements.

By Kevin Sack

From the lengthy article:

As policing has militarized to fight a faltering war on drugs, few tactics have proved as dangerous as the use of forcible-entry raids to serve narcotics search warrants, which regularly introduce staggering levels of violence into missions that might be accomplished through patient stakeouts or simple knocks at the door.

Thousands of times a year, these “dynamic entry” raids exploit the element of surprise to effect seizures and arrests of neighborhood drug dealers. But they have also led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, demolished property, enduring trauma, blackened reputations and multimillion-dollar legal settlements at taxpayer expense, an investigation by The New York Times found.

For the most part, governments at all levels have chosen not to quantify the toll by requiring reporting on SWAT operations. But The Times’s investigation, which relied on dozens of open-record requests and thousands of pages from police and court files, found that at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in such raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.

The casualties have occurred in the execution of no-knock warrants, which give the police prior judicial authority to force entry without notice, as well as warrants that require the police to knock and announce themselves before breaking down doors. Often, there is little difference.

Read the rest, view the footage, and the supplemental material at the New York Times.

Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood

Unequal Sentences for Blacks and Whites

Decades of research have shown that the criminal courts sentence black defendants more harshly than whites. But a striking new investigation of sentencing disparities in Florida by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune expands our understanding of this problem in two important ways.

It exposes the fact that African-American defendants get more time behind bars — sometimes twice the prison terms of whites with identical criminal histories — when they commit the same crimes under identical circumstances. It also shows how bias on the part of individual judges and prosecutors drives sentencing inequity.

The Florida Legislature has been wrestling with this issue for decades. In the 1980s, for example, it tried to change sentencing policies that varied widely from place to place by creating sentencing guidelines. Today, prosecutors assign defendants points — based on the seriousness of their crime, the circumstances of their arrest and whether or not they have prior convictions — to determine the minimum sentence required by law.

In a fair system, black and white defendants who score the same number of points under this formula would spend the same time beyond bars. But The Herald-Tribune found that judges disregard the guidelines, sentencing black defendants to longer prison terms in 60 percent of felony cases, 68 percent of serious, first-degree crimes and 45 percent of burglaries. In third-degree felony cases — the least serious and broadest class of felonies — white Florida judges sentenced black defendants to 20 percent more prison time than white defendants.

The war on drugs weighs particularly heavily on black defendants. The police target their neighborhoods, herding people into a court system where judges are demonstrably harder on black offenders. The report found that nearly half of the counties in Florida sentenced African-Americans convicted of felony drug possession to more than double the jail time of whites — even when their backgrounds were the same.

Read the rest at the New York Times.

Book Foolssm

Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

by Scott Horton

Book Paulsm

The Great Ron Paul

by Scott Horton

Book Griggsm

No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg

by Will Grigg

Book Animalssm

What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

by Sheldon Richman

Book Palestinesm

Coming to Palestine

by Sheldon Richman

Pin It on Pinterest