Wednesday, April 9, 2008

FURTHERMORE. . .

WASH TIMES Religious, minority and civil rights activists are asking Homeland Security officials to screen their own airport screeners using video cameras to check whether passengers are being subjected to bias or profiling. "We believe such controls are critical to ensuring that our nation's [screeners] are focused squarely on security threats and not distracted by any personal bias," the organizations said in a letter this week to Kip Hawley, director of the Transportation Security Administration. The letter was signed by representatives of several groups including the Sikh Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Asian American Justice Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The groups said policy changes give transportation security officers more discretion to pull aside passengers for additional screening, resulting in "an unchecked ability to engage in racial, religious, ethnic, or national origin profiling of air travelers." One of the policies they targeted was the "screening passengers by observation techniques," a program using behavior to identify high-risk passengers. They also cited the discretionary ban on lighters and more extensive screening of passengers wearing bulky clothing. The groups proposed a quarterly video audit of 10 airports chosen at random. An auditor would collect data "on the perceived race, religion, ethnicity and national origin of each passenger who is asked to submit to additional screening beyond the metal detector."

JAMES WRIGHT, WASHINGTON AFRO AMERICAN Crime has steadily declined over the past three decades but there are more people in jail for reasons that have nothing to do with the severity of their crimes, according to a new report. The study, "Jailing Communities: The Impact of Jail Expansion and Effective Public Safety Strategies" was released by the Washington, D.C.-based Justice Policy Institute. . .

Because of the rising costs of bail, people arrested today are much more likely to serve jail time before trial than they would have been two decades ago, even though crime rates are nearly at their lowest levels in 30 years. Additionally, the report said that the jails are filled with people with mental health issues, immigration violations and those who are homeless. It states that six out of 10 people in jail are struggling with their mental health. Petteruti, one of the co-authors, observed: "Twenty percent of the people in this country's jails are not legally guilty. They have not been convicted of anything and yet they are sitting in jail. That's not right and it doesn't make sense.". . . Blacks are nearly five times as likely to be incarcerated in jail as Whites and three times as Latinos. Immigration violations are being jailed at an increasing rate, up 500 percent in the last decade, the report said.

A STUDY by the Center for Community Alternatives and the National HIRE Network reveals that the use of criminal history background checks in the college admission practice to be on the rise and that crime on campuses is more likely to be committed by students without criminal records. "In recent years, colleges and universities in the United States have increasingly included criminal history background checks in their admissions processes and have started to create exclusionary policies," said Marsha Weissman, executive director of CCA. "These polices are being implemented despite the fact that there is virtually no evidence to suggest that the past criminal histories of students are risk factors that affect the rate of crime on college campuses. Although there is no indication that these policies will make campuses any safer, such policies do carry with them some very significant and dangerous consequences. In their haste to make campuses safer, college admissions officers are adopting policies that threaten to make the community at large less safe and more racially divided."

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