The NYPD 12 and The Revelation of Racism within The System

The 2018 documentary Crime and Punishment, released on Hulu, centers on a dozen New York Police Department officers, both retired and employed, bringing forth a class action lawsuit against the city for enforcing racist quotas, and then retaliating against officers for not complying. In the state of New York, it was made illegal for police departments to mandate their officers follow quotas and summonses, yet in the largest police department in the country, New York City continued to expect their cops to arrest a certain number of people a month. While quotas in general are already controversial enough, there were many racist undertones to these policies, most likely due to broken windows theory forcing officers to have higher patrols in impoverished neighborhoods. Essentially, in order to meet these quotas, police officers would arrest people, primarily young black and Latino boys, for offenses such as possession of a weapon, and then dismiss the case due to lack of evidence; this in turn creates a ripple effect for minority boys so that if they ever are arrested and they actually did commit the crime they’re accused of, a judge will look at their record of false arrests and likely impose an even harsher sentence or bail. The quotas also brought great harm to minority police officers, such as NYPD 12 Edwin Raymond who was denied promotion first for being a black man with dreads and then for calling out the NYPD for corruption. Ultimately, the community supported the NYPD 12 and their lawsuit and the police commissioner stepped down from his position, however the lawsuit found that police cannot sue for imposing quotas but only file complaints about it.

This film exposed the intricacies of the reasons why the police target minorities, and it is a perspective that is important to highlight when studying the criminal justice system. Many young men in New York were interviewed about their experiences, and most of them revealed the pattern of racial profiling that goes on in their neighborhoods. This term was defined in class as “any policing that subjects individuals to greater scrutiny based in whole or in part on race” (Hutchins, 2018). One police officer even admitted to being instructed to do racial profiling, as his sergeant told him to stop any black male between the ages of 14 to 21, and the officer has no choice but to oblige unless he wants to lose his job. Racial profiling then leads to arrests and sitting in prison instead of sitting in a classroom, as was the case for Pedro Hernandez, who was accused of shooting someone and then held in Rikers under a $250,000 bond. Oftentimes, young people in lower income neighborhoods have less power when it comes to the police, and when they are forced to pay bonds like Pedro was, despite no evidence being found for his alleged crime, it contributes to NYPD’s annual budget; perhaps another justification that is used for profiling black and Latino men above all others. Rikers Island is infamous for housing more than the facilities can handle, and “of the 77,000 people who come through there during the year, 85 percent have not yet been convicted of a crime” (Edelman, p.51, 2017).

Unfortunately, exploiting people for monetary purposes is not the only reason the NYPD targets black boys. There is the narrative that African American males are more prone to violence and criminal activity, and surveys have found that people believe “African Americans pose a greater threat to public order and safety than other groups, as well as support for harsher juvenile sanctions” (Davis, p.50, 2018). The super predator mindset is dangerous, and by forcing police officers to meet a quota at the end of the month, they are left with little options but to target the people who no one will care enough to fight for. One of the men in the film spoke of this, and believes that police will get a racial disparate outcome without ever having to mention race to their officers.

I think a majority of the time we place our focus on the victims of the criminal justice system, evaluating how race and sex is used against people, but this documentary truly highlights the actors that criminalize people, and how they are affected by it. One of the themes of this film was about how much bond and bail money contribute to a police department’s budget, and that it is the more subtle reason why quotas are still enforced. This really stood out to me, as it goes back to America’s history of prioritizing money in the name of degrading an entire race of people. Ultimately, I believe this documentary did a great job of explaining both sides of the coin and did not leave much room for interpretation; whatever opinions they had, the officers backed it up with evidence. Crime and Punishment is a great watch for anyone needs to hear more from the inside as opposed to the black boys being affected by institutional racism, and genuinely exposes police department’s intentions.




Davis, A. J. (2018). Policing the Black man: arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Edelman, P. B. (2017). Not a crime to be poor: the criminalization of poverty in America. The New Press.

Hutchins, M. (2018). The endurance of racial disparity in the criminal justice system. In A. Davis (Ed.), Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 31–56). story, Vintage Books.


The Wilding of Young Black Men in America

The 2013 documentary The Central Park Fivethat was available to me on Amazon provided a deep analysis of the 1989 central park jogger case, and the following ramifications. On April 19, 1989, a woman jogging in central park was found nearly beaten to death and violently raped. A group of about 25 teenagers were also in the park at the time, raising havoc by abusing bicyclers, harassing a homeless man, and beating up a pedestrian, and five of these boys ended up being caught in the middle of one of America’s most talked about criminal cases. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and they spent the rest of their childhood in prison for a crime they did not commit. Their false confessions are what drove the prosecutors to convict them, but the color of their skin is what prompted the police to question them in the first place, and considering the nature of the crime, the NYPD was pressured to solve it quickly. Despite none of their DNA being present on the victim or at the crime scene, their confession was enough; the fact that they were young boys was not allowed as an excuse to them lying to the police after intense interrogation. The sad reality that confessions trump any other evidence is why these boys were convicted, because even the timeline did not match up to the estimated time the jogger was attacked, nor did the location. Ultimately, the real perpetrator Matias Reyes did come forward and the 5 men were released, but their lives were never the same.

This film placed an emphasis on the complexities of being a young black male in the criminal justice system, as well as how American react to white women being raped by black boys. The general consensus was anger, as it should be considering the violence of the crime, however it could easily be assumed that history was repeating itself and America was angry because it was a black man that raped a white woman. A journalist from the film spoke how differently interracial rape is handled, as only a few weeks earlier to the central park case a black woman raped by a black man was raped and then thrown off a roof in Brooklyn, but no one seemed to notice that case as much. We even discussed this in class, as “African Americans arrested for raping white women were more likely to be charged with felonies” than cases involving same race rape (Walker, et al., 2018).

Seeing as America has a deeply rooted history of racism, it comes as no surprise but the public condemnation of these boys was, as people pushed for them to get the death penalty, and yet when their innocence was proved the world went silent. Implicit bias likely played a huge part in why this case got so much attention, since “no one is immune from implicit bias or unconscious racism, and these subconscious views may cause individuals to act in ways that result in great harm to others” (Davis, 2018, p.187,). I believe the word unconscious racism is important to evaluate in this particular case, because it is to be expected that people are outraged about the rape and brutal beating of a woman, but their reaction to it once they found out the defendants were black and Hispanic is not unique. This fear of black men even translated to the boys’ families, as people in the black community also took part in fighting for their downfall, only further perpetuating the stereotype that black boys are super-predators, even in their own homes. Worse yet, the boys obviously faced issues in prison, but life after prison did not grant them any peace despite their new title of innocence. Due to most employers’ hesitance to hire convicted criminals and the fact that “sixty percent of ex-offenders remain unemployed after a year”, Raymond Santana got into the drug game (Edelman, p.111, 2017). This in turn creates a cycle of incarceration for minorities, as they are never truly free from the criminal justice system, and all of the factors inside and outside contribute to society seeing them as a criminal.

This documentary contributed greatly to how I am able to perceive the more subtle aspects of racism in modern America. I think it is far easier to examine blatant stereotyping, but this film exposed the implicit biases we all have, and I believe the most striking example of that was comparing the central park case to the Brooklyn rape case and the coverage and outrage they both received. The two cases were quite similar in terms of violence, however the only differences were on the race of the perpetrator and the victim as well as the location of the crime; especially in the 90’s, Brooklyn was not the hipster town it is now, however central park has always been a holy place for New Yorkers, which certainly contributed to the disparity in anger. However, I don’t think this film truly acknowledged that the public’s outrage was justified regardless of who the defendants were, as I personally got very upset learning of the details of the crime, and did at some points forget who was being charged with it. This created a conflict for me, because it became difficult to separate my anger over the fact that this happened to this woman, with my anger that five young boys were wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime and had to suffer through prison and attempt a life outside of prison. The Central Park Five is an important film to watch because it highlights our own implicit biases while also addressing the effects of racism for young black men in the criminal justice system.









Davis, A. J. (2018). Policing the Black man: Arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Edelman, P. B. (2017). Not a crime to be poor: The criminalization of poverty in America. The New Press.

Walker, S., Spohn, C., & DeLone, M. (2018). The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America. Cengage Learning.