Radley Balko’s Civil Liberties Predictions for 2015

See if you can guess the sci-fi twist. Sometimes, real life can be stranger than parody. This can be particularly true when it comes to the beat we cover here at The Watch, civil liberties. With that in mind, I’ve gone out on a limb to make some predictions about what might happen on the civil liberties front in 2015. I realize that some of these prognostications may seem a wee bit hyperbolic, a bit paranoid, maybe even a little nutty. But I think we can all agree that we should hope none of t … [Read more...]

“Washington Bails on Demilitarization After Ferguson”

Seasons Greetings: Lawmakers vowed changes to the Pentagon programs that deliver military-grade equipment to local police after images of cops climbing out of armored vehicles with military-grade weapons filtered out of Ferguson, Missouri, in August.But months later, the chaotic 1033 program — which sends surplus military gear built for combat to local police forces with little oversight — hasn’t changed at all.The 113th Congress will end without substantive changes to the program. The W … [Read more...]

“Mass Shooting Hysteria and the Death of John Crawford”: I’ll stop linking Radley Balko’s articles

when the nation stops needing them... ...There are some obvious questions here about police training, most importantly why they fired so quickly and made no attempt at de-escalation. If they had, it seems pretty clear that Crawford would have dropped the gun and would still be alive today. It’s hard to believe that a father of two knowingly provoked police with a pellet rifle. That Crawford was black and the police officers who shot him are white (as is Ritchie) also raises the usual questions a … [Read more...]

Good Cop: Radley Balko on Joseph McNamara

here: It’s a sad irony that we’ve lost Joseph McNamara just as the country has become engaged in a productive and overdue discourse about policing. McNamara, who passed away Friday at the age of 79, was an eloquent and engaging critic of the drug war, of reactionary and aggressive policing, and of the militarization of law enforcement long before those positions were popular.McNamara’s voice was particularly important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, he had 35 years of policing … [Read more...]

In Which I Am the Last Person to Read Radley Balko’s Epic Report on St. Louis Co. Policing as Profiting from Poverty

and I'm posting it here just in case I'm actually second-to-last. ...The officer found that Bolden had four arrest warrants in three separate jurisdictions: the towns of Florissant and Hazelwood in St. Louis County and the town of Foristell in St. Charles County. All of the warrants were for failure to appear in court for traffic violations. Bolden hadn’t appeared in court because she didn’t have the money. A couple of those fines were for speeding, one was for failure to wear her seatbelt and m … [Read more...]

Friday Link Round-Up: The Road to Ferguson, And Some Paths Away

Hey it's my birthday, let's have some fun! This is a very, very scattershot link round-up. Mostly snagged from people I follow on Twitter and you should too.Walter Olson, "Petty Offenses and Police-Community Relations in Ferguson": It seems so random and meaningless that a legal offense as minor as walking on the roadway would set in motion what was to prove the fatal confrontation between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. But in the wider scheme of how Ferguson came to have its … [Read more...]

“The Criminalization of Parenthood”: Radley Balko

again some more: A couple of themes we explore here at The Watch are the increasing criminalization of just about everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions. A few examples from recent headlines show those themes intersecting with parenthood.The first story comes from South Carolina, where a mother was jailed and charged with “unlawful conduct toward a child” for . . . … [Read more...]


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