Recognizing and correcting racial biases in traffic stops

One of the things I touched on in my post about implicit racial biases was that they were distinct from the explicit racial discrimination seen in the criminal justice system. As an example of racial discrimination that has been pushed to the forefront, I mentioned the disparity in traffic stops.

A month or so ago, CT released a report on racial profiling in traffic stops. TrendCT, a CT Mirror site, has done a tremendous job of breaking down the data and providing valuable insight into how Connecticut police stop motorists, why, and what their racial breakup is.

The greatest source of tension in the CJS has long been interactions between police – usually white – and them minority populations they are charged with protecting and serving. In my post on the 50th anniversary of Miranda (and on WNPR’s Where We Live), I mention the history of the deep south in the 1930s, leading up to Miranda in 1966 and how white deputies beat confessions out of black suspects.

This persists today, but in a different form. The distrust exists because minorities perceive police treating them differently. This leads to more frequent arrests, more convictions and harsher treatment by judges and prosecutors.

My admonitions to the defense bar apply to police as well: if we are to increase trust in the police and make the justice system more fair, we need to question why we make disproportionate stops of minorities and how we treat them after they are stopped.

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