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Smart & Safe NAACP Criminal Justice Initiative - Strategy Training. March 2010. Criminal Justice a Civil Rights Issue?. Voting Employment Education Police Abuse. Criminal Justice is a Civil Rights Issue. Incarceration Trends: The Problem.

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Criminal Justice a

Civil Rights Issue?


Incarceration Trends: The Problem

  • 1 in 31 Americans have served time or is currently serving time. 1 in 11 African Americans.
  • Majority of people incarcerated are people of color, people that were unemployed, have mental health issues and are in for non-violent offenses.
  • Women and children are the largest growing prison population.
  • 600-800 thousand inmates get released into community each year
  • 1 in 3 African American males born in 2001 run the risk of serving time in prison or being dead before their 34th birthday.

As cited by the Justice Policy Institute, Pruning Prisons, 2009.

  • .
impact on education
Impact on Education
  • $70 billion a year on incarcerating people.
  • 6 times the rate of state spending on higher education.
  • K-12 and Higher Education funding declined as 33 states spent a larger proportion of their discretionary dollars on prisons.
  • Public four-year college is $15,213.
  • Private four year is $35,636.
  • Annual cost of incarcerating a person in prison was approximately $25,000 a year.

As cited by the Justice Policy Institute, Pruning Prisons, 2009.

  • .
police misconduct
Police Misconduct
  • 2005 Dept. of Justice Survey re: Contact with Police
    • Of the 43.5 million people who had contact with police, 1.6% had force or threat of force used against them in their most recent contact
    • Of these, 83% characterized the force as excessive
    • 4.4% of African Americans, 2.3% of Hispanics, 1.2% of whites reported experiencing use of force by law enforcement
    • African Americans were 1 out of 10 contacts with police, but 1 out of 4 instances where force was used
exercise breakout session
Exercise Breakout Session
  • What is an alternative policy or strategy to incarceration in your community?
  • Make a demand statement that clearly states what you are asking for in regards to Criminal Justice/Smart and Safe?
  • Who must you hold accountable to get what you want?
  • How do you build power to accomplish your goal?
  • How can we be helpful to what you want to do locally or at state level?
different forms of organizing

Direct Action



Self Help

Direct Service

Different Forms of Organizing

Challenges Existing Power Relations

Accepts Existing Power Relations

how tactics can influence your target
How Tactics Can Influence Your Target


Civil Disobedience

Press Event


Education Forum


strategy exercise breakout session
Strategy Exercise - Breakout Session
  • Every year for the last 5 years, a joint task force of local law enforcement, state police and federal officers execute a raid in the town of Cicero.
  • The raid consists of arresting and incarcerating 30-45 African American young men for drug-related offenses.
  • A young unarmed man was killed by law enforcement and after the investigation, the shooting officer was not assigned fault.
  • Each year, the raid takes place in September and officers use high tech equipment such as helicopters, night gargles, semi-automatic weapons and army gear during the raids.
  • You are a member of the Cicero NAACP and would like to stop next year’s raid.
smart safe criminal justice initiative

Four Campaigns

Advance Effective Law Enforcement

Elevate the Voices of Crime Survivors

Eliminate Employment Discrimination of the Formerly Incarcerated

Reform Punitive Sentencing and Support Voting Rights for the Formerly incarcerated

Smart & Safe Criminal Justice Initiative
effective law enforcement campaign

Part of a multi-year initiative to improve trust and public safety. Goals include:

Improve law enforcement accountability

Strengthen bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve

Increase public safety in 1200 urban and rural communities directly represented by NAACP and the nation as a whole

National and local reforms: use of force standards, racial profiling, community oriented policing

Effective Law Enforcement Campaign
recent examples
Recent Examples
  • Examples of incidents reported to the NAACP that highlight the problem:
    • Rockford, IL
    • Oakland, CA
    • Pittsburgh, PA
rockford il august 2009
Rockford, IL – August 2009
  • 23 year-old Mark Anthony Barmore
  • Domestic complaint
  • Chased and shot dead in front of day care students at church
  • Unarmed; three shots in the back
  • Witnesses report intimidation
  • Increase in racial tensions in community
  • Lack of trust between community and police department
oakland ca january 2009
Oakland, CA – January 2009
  • 22 year-old Oscar Grant
  • Took BART at his mother’s behest
  • Shot in the head by BART police
  • Unarmed; handcuffed on the floor
  • Incident captured by cell phone video – “this generation’s Rodney King”
  • Peaceful demonstrations turned violent
  • Increased tension between community and police
pittsburgh pa january 2010
Pittsburgh, PA – January 2010
  • 18 year-old, honors music student, Jordan Miles
  • Approached by undercover officers, asked about “money and drugs”
  • Chased, beaten, hair pulled out, choked
  • What officers believed was gun, was Mountain Dew bottle
  • Charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault
  • Community outrage and outcry in support of Miles

Model State Policies

  • Repealed almost all of the state’s mandatory minimum drug statutes
  • Prisoner Reentry Initiative helped improve chances for parole
  • Steps taken to reduce recidivism for technical violations of parole
kick off misplaced priorities report
Kick Off: Misplaced Priorities Report
  • National Report Roll-out
  • Regional Report Roll-outs
    • New York
    • Philadelphia
    • Houston
    • Los Angeles
    • Indianapolis
    • Jackson
  • Billboards
  • New Media Buzz
all alert for organizers

Build Capacity for activism 1:

Identify criminal justice committee chairs for all units

Conduct Trainings on All Alert reporting tool

Report local trends identified by All Alert data to NAACP State Conferences

Advance toolkit for local and state action

Quarterly workshops/webinars for state & local leadership

All Alert for Organizers
misplaced priorities

Build Capacity for activism 2:

Toolkit for local, university and state action

Quarterly workshops/webinars for state & local leadership

State lobby days to elevate misplaced priorities issues

Mobilize around Federal Legislation: Youth Promise Act

Organize and elevate issue on College Campuses

Misplaced Priorities
2010 2012 federal smart safe opportunities
2010-2012 Federal Smart & Safe Opportunities
  • Broad-Based Mobilization on:
    • Webb’s Justice System Overhaul Bill
    • National Standards for Use for Force and Use for Force Training
    • Community Oriented Policing
    • Ending Zero-Tolerance Policies
  • Build Criminal Justice Capacity within the NAACP
    • Criminal Justice Committees
      • Track-record of success with building multi-racial alliances to reform law enforcement and prison system
      • Organize local campaigns to hold Mayors and Police Chief accountable
      • Mobilize for State and Federal Reforms
key staff

Robert Rooks, MSW

Director of Criminal Justice Programs

(410) 336-3156

Niaz Kasravi, Ph. D

Sr. Manager, Law Enforcement Accountability

(410) 336-2642

Key Staff