A six-month investigation of South Carolina officer-involved shootings over the past decade by The Greenville News revealed shortcomings in the use of police bodycams and failures to report incidents to the state office responsible for investigating them. The victims were disproportionately African Americans, the paper said.
The Pennsylvania State Police stopped collecting data on the race of drivers pulled over by troopers in 2012, making it far more difficult to detect bias. The agency agreed to re-start the practice after a journalists’ investigation reported it was the largest state police department not to do so.
“I think that we’re in a place where we kind of see some progress coupled with some steps backward,” says Adia Harvey Wingfield, a Washington University sociologist, commenting in advance of the five-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
More proactive efforts, such as explicitly telling eyewitnesses at a police lineup that a perpetrator may not be present, targets the kinds of practices that have led to wrongful convictions, says a Stanford University researcher.
The Supreme Court reversed the most recent conviction of Flowers, a black Mississippian who has been tried an extraordinary six times for a quadruple murder in 1996, finding that a zealous prosecutor again improperly kept African Americans off the jury.
Statutes barring formerly incarcerated individuals from certain types of housing have more to do with prejudice than protecting public safety, argues a NYU Law professor, who says housing policy should be divorced from the justice system.