Will the Hate Ever Stop?

The source of media that I chose to watch was The Hate U Give, which flawlessly fit into the requirement of analyzing a source of media regarding race and crime for this week’s media blog. This film does an exemplary job of showcasing a predominately African American neighborhood of Garden Heights struggle against the oppression of police violence. This movie serves as the younger sibling to its older brother also titled The Hate U Give, which is a novel written by Angie Thomas released in 2017. This film went on to be the recipient of an abundance of awards, including the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Having read the book, I was eager to see if this film would contain the same captivating imagery that the book did, and to my surprise, it didn’t disappoint. The movie focuses on the life of Starr Carter, an outgoing 16-year-old African American girl who resides in the neighborhood of Garden Heights. Starr eventually finds herself as the key witness to a questionable shooting that involved her friend Khalil, by the hands of a white police officer conducting a traffic stop. The death of Khalil would evolve into a national news story, while Starr’s identity as the key witness would remain in the shadow along with her insecurities. As Starr would come forward as being the key witness during Khalil’s shooting, so would an array of unprecedented elements of a neighborhood that seems to be completely turned upside down from the announcement of a not guilty sentence of the officer who shot Khalil. As Starr watches as her neighborhood erupts into riots and protests, she must ultimately fight internal battles within herself while facing the external battles of her now distraught community of Garden Heights. Starr emerges as the ultimate winner in this unimaginable battle, as her mental toughness and matureness guide her in the right direction. Starr finds herself faced with the problematic aspect of policing in society towards African Americans, which motivates her to be the voice behind keeping the memory of Khalil alive. It’s important to understand the details regarding Khalil’s death. Khalil was pulled over for failing to signal a lane change. The officer who seemed to possess ill will towards Khalil, treated him as if he was wanted for a felony. Khalil emulated the officer’s attitude, disagreeing with the officer’s order for Khalil to exit the car. As the officer was checking Khalil’s ID, Khalil decided to reach for his hairbrush tucked within the driver’s side door. This was most likely a nervous reaction, hence the situation and atmosphere the hostile police officer created for such a minor traffic stop. The officer noticed Khalil reaching in his car door and decided that his best choice of force was to shoot and kill the unarmed Khalil. The non-guilty verdict of the white officer and the horrific fate of the unarmed African American Khalil is what The Hate U Give depicts. The movie depicts the events that follow such tragic events in society, and what those such as Starr do in order to heal these opened wounds.

This movie referenced many concepts we learned in class, and is heavily tied within Policing the Black Man. In the beginning of the semester, we learned about how race and class were considered social constructs. Within this topic, we learned of the division that social class seems to separate people by. Income, education, and occupational prestige were among the main three that stood out as different levels in society. This seems to be relevant with the story described within The Hate U Give. Within Garden heights, the King Lords were looked at as having more power than those contributing so society in terms of entering the workforce and having families. The police officers could also be described as having an occupational prestige, since they seemed to have an utmost amount of power within the community. The book, Policing the Black Man also contains similarities regarding the events in which The Hate U Give depicted. The story of Clarence Aaron is an exact representation of the mistreatment African Americans face in the hands of policing and the justice system (Mauer, 2018). Clarence Aaron was a college student with no criminal record, similar to Khalil. He introduced a classmate whose brother was a cocaine dealer to a cocaine seller he knew from high school. He was present for the sale of cocaine and received a payment from the dealer. “After police arrested the drug group, the others testified against Aaron, describing him as a major dealer, which led to him being sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment in federal prison.” (Mauer, 2018, p, 31.) Another example from Policing the Black Man which described the mistreatment of African Americans in the hands of police would be the story of Emilio Mayfield. Emilio Mayfield was only 16 years old when he fell victim to police brutality in the hands of nine police officers, for refusing to sit down while trying to walk to his school bus. “The encounter escalated as nine officers became involved, at least four of whom who piled on top of Emilio before slamming him into the ground.” (Henning 2018 p, 57.)

This movie served as an extreme refresher regarding the flaws of our society and specifically our policing system. When a creature of free will is given the power of legal discretion such as a police officer, these types of tragic events are inevitable. Stories such as Khalil’s continue to emerge in our news feeds as we turn on the news, reminding us of the problem society continues to face. I would recommend this movie to everyone, since it regards a fire that seems to have unlimited have unlimited fuel, police brutality within African American neighborhoods. Although the movie and book contain very similar moments and scenes, the book seems to offer more of a realistic side to society while the movie depicts the entirety of society as being against Starr and Garden Heights.



Mauer, M. (2018). The Endurance of Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 31-56). Vintage Books.

Henning, K. (2018). Boys to Men: The Role of Policing in the socialization of Black Boys. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 57-94). Vintage Books.

A House with no Key

The source of media that I chose to watch was a documentary named The House I Live In. This documentary does a great job of captivating the viewer by exploring the gritty depths of what lies within the “War on Drugs.” Police officers, prison authorities, judges, journalists, politicians, inmates and families provide a vivid account as to what they endured during these rough and rigid times of America. The documentary emerged under the intellect of Eugene Jarecki, who eventually would win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. What truly made this documentary intriguing is the abundance of viewpoints shared from so many different people, including Eugene Jarecki. A recurring key point that stood out to me while watching this documentary was the constant mention of the drug policy being fueled by economics. This is extremely similar to what we are currently reading in Policing the Black Man, regarding the oppression of minority groups in America (Davis, 2018). This documentary mentioned the policy that was created in the West Coast to criminalize opium smoking, which was heavily experimented within the Chinese culture. They decided to proceed with criminalization as a way to vacate the Chinese people out of hard-working jobs, in order to create work for the white men. This was also a recurring theme for African Americans, who would eventually be titled as a race who abused cocaine and hemp more than anyone else.

This film expanded greatly on what we have learned in class from the beginning. In class we discussed and expanded on the concept of discrimination. We learned that extralegal factors included race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and one’s lifestyle. This documentary clearly expanded on this concept since it gave the viewers the truth of how the “War on Drugs” was legitimately built on the theme of discrimination, and how it seemed to roll out when it first emerged in 1971. In class, when we were first assigned to read the first chapter of Policing the Black Man, we related the key points within the chapter to conflict theory. The concept of white supremacy was perhaps the biggest takeaway from Stevenson’s (2018) essay. Within the book, Stevenson (2018) states, “Advocates of slavery argued that science and religion supported the fact of whites’ racial superiority: white people were smart, hardworking, and more intellectually and morally evolved, while black people were dumb, lazy, childlike, and in need of guidance and supervision.” (p, 7.) The documentary specifically relates to what this quotation from Stevenson (2018) provides because The House I Live In references so many concepts similar to what white supremacy was built on. This was the fact that a minority group was suffering and being wronged because the opposing race did not see eye to eye with what was moral, and what was equality.

Personally, this documentary provided me with an extensive amount of knowledge regarding a topic that I truly never fully explored, which was the shameful evolution of discrimination and racism that emerged in our society hundreds of years ago. I’m truly not educated fully on the matter enough to develop a final perception or analysis, but sources of information that share multiple sides of a matter such as The House I Live In and Policing the Black Man solidify my belief that someday I will better understand these matters in our society. I would recommend this source of media to anyone with an interest in realism and human nature because it’s not gimmicky or dolled up. This documentary won an award for a reason, it immediately captivates you by its visuals and its gritty context which makes you truly imagine living in times like what is portrayed. If I were to formulate a question based on this documentary and specifically the matter of mass incarceration is what it eventually took society to evolve the concept of incarceration. Fast forward to today, and although still flawed, rehabilitation exists, and it’s being practiced more than what it was years ago.   I chose the name of my title A House with no Key because it seems that there’s never a perfect answer for any imposed question, especially one that continues to evolve as time moves on.

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

Stevenson, B. (2018). A presumption of guilt: The legacy of America’s history of racial injustice. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 3-20). Vintage Books.


The Glitch in the System

Podcast Link

The source of media that I chose to analyze was a podcast I found regarding the concept of policing black men and transforming the system. I was excited to learn that this media blog could reference any topic covered this semester. I thought that this podcast was very similar to what we covered during this course, and even related to the two books we were assigned as well. Paul Butler is a professor at the University of Georgetown, who was also a former federal prosecutor. Paul Butler is very active in researching and teaching an abundance of aspects within criminal law. A specific aspect of criminal law that Paul Butler researches is race relation law, solidifying this podcast as a source of credible media to conduct my final media blog on regarding the prosecution of black men. As I listened to this podcast for key takeaways, it was almost immediate that I was drawn to Paul’s analogy regarding a choke hold. Paul described his concept of a chokehold as being a system that is set in place to set up African American men in its grip. Paul described the statistics regarding corrections in the United States, that our country locks up more people than any other country in the history of our world. This accurately builds on to the idea that the system needs transformed and that there is a major flaw that needs fixed. It’s always difficult to articulate an answer on such a multi-layered subject such as what Paul describes, but it’s reassuring to listen to someone credible state their opinions on the matter. When Paul was asked about the best approach to a reform in the system, he stated that it should be viewed as reform versus transformation.   Paul describes the idea of a transformation that should take place in society. As a society, we should strive to create a safe and fair system regarding people who cause harm, end up in a place where they are unlikely to recidivate again. Paul believes that locking people behind bars isn’t the most logical approach we should take. The mention of other stories involving young African Americans who felt as if they were stopped by police for simply being of color are also mentioned within this podcast. His description of racial profiling, thoughts on incarceration, and the idea of transformation versus reform approach is truly articulate and teeming with great thoughts of life that might better our society if looked at more closely.

This podcast was tied heavily with many matters we discussed in class. As our semester approached near the end, we discussed the important concept of disparity v. discrimination.  When discussing discrimination, the podcast’s ideas stemmed from this concept of a once flawed approach of punishing minorities to a harsher sentence within corrections than others. Our previously covered topic of discrimination and extralegal factors assisted by fueling me with a better understanding of what the podcast had to say. During this semester, we were assigned to read Policing the Black Man and Not a Crime to be Poor. Both of these books offered an in depth look at perhaps two of society’s worst wounds sustained over the existence of mankind. Having dived back into their captivating grip, I was able to pull two examples from each book that relate to what the podcast described. Within Policing the Black Man, Davis states, “Many other officials (probation and parole officers, prison officials, and legislators) make decisions that impact the lives of black men in fundamental and often devastating ways.” (p, 178.) Paul’s concept of a chokehold is stating exactly Davis’s (2018) example describes. When referencing to Not a Crime to be Poor, Edelman (2017) describes the in-school infractions and vague offenses regarding students. Edelman states that “As elsewhere, students ticketed are disproportionately poor African American, Latino, and student’s with disabilities.” (p, 127.) This builds onto the podcast’s idea of constructing a system to place those who create trouble in a place that will rehabilitate them, rather than to punish them.

As this semester comes to an end, I found myself fully indulged in the information this course had to offer. I found the in-class discussions to be a true form of learning, teaching me with an abundance of new ideas and concepts. The handful of books assigned to us truly opened up a new wave of knowledge within me, fueling my passion for criminology and criminal justice ever more. Although I’m usually much more of a visual learner rather than the means of listening to a podcast, I found this podcast to be truly interesting and conducted under an immensely well-done fashion. I would recommend this to anyone curious about the concept Paul Butler does so well in explaining, the concept of policing black men and ultimately transforming the system.


Davis, A. (2018). The Prosecution of Black Men. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 178-209). Vintage Books.

Edelman, P (2017). Poverty, Race, and Discipline in Schools: Go Directly to Jail. In P. Edelman, Not a Crime to be Poor. The Criminalization of Poverty in America (pp. 117-135). The New Press.

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.

Juvenile Justice and the Fight for Freedom: Second Chance Kids

This Frontline documentary, Second Chance Kids gives us an inside look at the fight of mandatory life sentences in juvenile justice. Following the 90’s tough-on-crime era and the birth of the “superpredator”, this documentary shows us the lives of two juvenile lifers, Anthony Rolon and Joe Donovan. Both men were waived and convicted as adults, and both were sentenced to mandatory life without parole in the state of Massachusetts. This documentary takes us through the landmark supreme court decisions that allowed the parole of these two lifers, as well as how our juvenile justice system has changed with new scientific understanding. Additionally, the rationale and effects that the tough-on-crime era had on juveniles and race is also discussed and highlighted.  

Anthony Rolon, a black male, was sentenced to life without parole at the age of 17 years for the murder of another young man. His mother was an absentee parent and drug addict, and his father was a drug dealer. Rolon got into an altercation with several young men hosting a house party. The altercation started when Rolon went over and, for fear of the police coming around, asked them to quiet down. After a conflict broke out, Rolon stabbed another young man several times, killing him. 

Joe Donovan was 17 years old when he was involved in an armed robbery of a MIT student. Donovan’s part was that he punched this student, but the incident turned into a felony murder when someone he was with stabbed the young man several times in the chest. The 15 year old that actually stabbed the student was too young to be tried as an adult, and the other individual took a plea deal, leaving Donovan to face first degree murder charges. Without directly murdering anyone, he was convicted and sentenced to mandatory life without parole. 

Several years into the sentences, the supreme court ruled that sentencing a juvenile without considering extenuating circumstances was unconstitutional – meaning that automatic mandatory sentencing for those under the age of 18 was to be prohibited. These punishments, which were dolled out to juveniles during this “superpredator” era, were the justice system’s way of trying to appease and reassure the public that something was being done to fight the recent rise of crime. 

As we have already explored in this class, the laws and actions that happened in response to this crime problem were disproportionate to young men of color and discriminated against black and Latino males. In her essay, Henning (2018) points out that during the “superpredator” hype in the 90’s, black boys were especially targeted and hyper criminalized. A predicted rise of violent crime perpetrated by young black men with no morality or remorse created a wave of fear that swept across America, and legislators scrambled to do something about it. Although the “superpredator” myth has been debunked and years of data show no corresponding rise in juvenile crime, the legislation and attitude towards young black men still remains.

This has added to the over-prosecution of not only black boys, but black men as well. In her essay, Davis (2018) establishes that black men are more likely to be prosecuted federally, leading to more substantial, punitive sentences. Additionally, Fairfax (2018) connects this prosecution with a grand jury indictment, stating that a black male perpetrator is more likely to be indicted, and in fact grand juries very rarely deny prosecutors a verdict. Even more so, when discussing juveniles, not only are black boys more likely to be perceived as adults by police (Laura, 2014), but they are also more likely to be tried as adults in court. The supreme court decisions in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana that banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles have been just the first step in undoing the punitive, discriminatory actions of the tough-on-crime era. It was these rulings that allowed Rolan’s and Donovan’s cases to be re-examined in consideration of release. The supreme court based their decisions off of new scientific evidence that suggests that juveniles cannot be held to the same accountability as adults due to a lack of development of the adolescent mind. 

To fully appreciate the weight of this decision, we must understand that the prison system is not meant to be punitive, but restorative. If there is evidence that shows that violence juvenile offenders can mature to be non-violent men, our justice system must reflect that. Anyone wishing to understand the impact and struggle of the fight within the juvenile justice system would find Second Chance Kids well worth the watch. Not only does it focus on this issue, but also the evolution and change of our system regarding juveniles and race.



Davis, A. J. (2018). The prosecution of black men. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 179-208). Vintage Books.

Dornstein, K.  (Producer). Dornstein, K. (Director). (2017). Second Chance Kids[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/second-chance-kids/

Fairfax, R. A., Jr. (2018). The grand jury and police violence against black men. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 209-233). Vintage Books.

Henning, K. (2018). Boys to men: The role of policing in the socialization of black boys. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 57-94). Vintage Books.

Laura, C. T. (2014). Being bad: my baby brother and the school-to-prison pipeline. Teachers College Press.

The Reality of the Criminal Justice System

The movie I chose to watch for this media blog is Crime + Punishment.Crime + Punishment is a Hulu original documentary by Stephen Ming. The documentary revolves around the New York Police Department, which is the largest police organization in America. There are a dozen former cops who speak about how their quotas are outlawed and are pushing for a number of arrests. New York City had banned quotas on arrests and summonses, but a group of 12 minority police officers filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York Police Department saying that there are still illegal and continued uses of quotas. The documentary shows numerous citizens that speak about their experiences with the NYPD and how its corrupt. It also shows numerous recordings from cops and lawyers. It shows

Stop and frisk is one key point that was presented in this film. In the documentary, it showed a man named Pedro Hernandez that was charged with a shooting and held on Rikers Island. Hernandez did not commit the crime and hired a private investigator to be on his case. This goes into the NYPD program as a “broken windows” policy that would allow police officers to stop and frisk the people that fit the description of a crime. This is how Hernandez appeared a suspect of the crime. Most people that were under investigation of the crime were considered black or Latino.

This stop and frisk allegation that happened to Hernandez had come up with the issue of how the system is relying on a specific number of arrests and summonses every month. This relates to our readings in class. We learned, “In 2013, a federal district court ruled the NYPD Stop and Frisk policy unconstitutional as it violated ‘the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of the law and also the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures,’” (Walker, 2018, p. 177).

Another key point presented in the documentary was how cops are pressured to arrest and summon minorities in New York City. The film shows how police officers target low income communities, they constantly are trying to harass citizens for low-level charges that are usually dismissed for lack of probable cause, and make money for their police department for fines and fees. I think this can be related to racial profiling. In Policing the Black Man,it is discussed, “On the narrowest end of the spectrum, racial profiling is understood to include only the conduct of police officers who consciously view black men as suspicious for no reason other than race,” (Hutchins’, 2018, p. 96). This statement made me realize how the police officers are forced to go in low income communities-where a lot of African Americans and Latinos reside, to try to make reasonable cause and suspicion on these citizens; which would be racial profiling. The documentary also made mention to Ferguson Report and the killing of Eric Garner, as we read in Policing the Black Man.

As we have discussed in class discussions about what we need to do to end racial profiling, stop and frisk, and other racial crimes relating to police officers, this documentary shows how the officers and communities are fighting for what they believe is right; even if it means they have to risk their careers. After watching the film, it made me realize that we as a society need to be taking more precautions as well to stop what is happening in the criminal justice system and take actions ourselves. I think the higher up authorities need to be focusing more on this and ending it.

This documentary brought people’s attention to the reality of what is happening in the NYPD. I think it was important to show this to the world because since NYPD is the biggest in America, that means that other police departments are following in their footsteps. It shows how we as a society need to be taking action, as well. Since twelve of the police officers that were taking action with filing a law suit were all minorities, I think that gave a better insight on how they would like to take actions themselves. They didn’t go into the field to arrest people purposely and get their number of arrests up like a game, they want to protect citizens and the communities.

I would recommend this film because it gave me more insight on what is happening in our criminal justice system. It also gave me better understanding to our class readings and discussions. It gives a more realistic take on the circumstances that are happening that we don’t necessarily see. It helps you visually put together what we have discussed in class and what we have read. It makes you want to make an ideal of equal justice under the law close to a reality.
















Hutchins’, R. (2018). Racial Profiling: The Law, the Policy, and the Practice. In A. J. Davis,

Policing the Black Man: Arrest Prosecution, and Imprisonment(p. 96). Vintage Books.

Walker, S., Spohn, C. DeLone, M. (2018). The Color of Justice; Race, Ethnicity, and Crime

in America. Cengage Learning.

Mass Incarceration as the Modern Day Slavery

The media source I chose to watch was a documentary called 13th. This film shows the history starting from 1865 when slavery was abolished. It shows the connection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. This documentary shows that mass incarceration is an extension of slavery. The film gave insight on how poorly African Americans have been treated throughout the years and it hasn’t gotten better. It showed the daily struggles of African Americans from slavery, lynching, segregation, and more. It also discussed how life truly was after the Civil War. It was very eye opening to me because it truly gave an understanding on how unfair and corrupt our criminal justice system is.

A key point discussed in the documentary was Jim Crow laws. As we have discussed in the readings, Jim Crow laws legalized racial segregation. The film showed the horrific times of segregation and how black people were not allowed education, beaches, on busses, and more. I could tell that they were fighting for their freedom like African Americans still are to this day. As the book, Policing the Black Man, mentions, “Black people in this nation should be afforded the same protection, safety, and opportunity to thrive as anyone else. But, alas, that won’t happen until we confront our history and commit to engaging the past that continues to haunt us,” (Davis 2018). This quote has stuck to me because it shows that even after watching the documentary, African Americans still don’t have the justice they deserve and the protection like every American should have. I also believe this quote is true because in order for there to be justice, we need to be discussing the horrific times that happened in our past in order to realize that everyone deserves equal no matter what the color of your skin is or what ethnicity you are.

Another key idea presented in this documentary was the mass incarceration in the United States. It discussed how prisons don’t want to drop people, and how the prisons run off an economic model. They showed the criminal justice system talking about taking people out of prisons, and putting them on parole with a GPS tracking device. Like mentioned in the documentary though, these people are still making a profit from the GPS tracking device and colored people are still being locked up on constant surveillance with no freedom in their own communities. The mass incarceration in America is unreal. NAACP states in their statistics, “Today, the United States makes up about 5% of the world’s population and has 21% of the world’s prisoners,” (NAACP). This biggest problem is that African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.

African Americans being incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites has a big connection from the war on drugs. As discussed in class, national data on use of drugs suggest whites are more likely than either African Americans or Hispanics to have ever used a variety of drugs, yet state prosecutors are more likely to refer racial minorities to the federal system for prosecution for sale of crack cocaine and sentences were much harsher under federal law for them. This takes me back to the incident with Clarence Aaron in our reading, Policing the Black Man. Aaron was a black college student who had no criminal record and was present for the sale of cocaine and was paid by the dealer. Aaron was testified in court and he was sentenced to three terms of life imprisonment in federal prison. Luckily enough, Aaron received a sentence communication from President Obama after the twenty years in prison he had already served. This documentary related to Aaron’s situation in our reading in many ways. It showed how unequal blacks are treated when it comes to the war on drugs. It also showed how harsh their punishments are compared to whites. As the documentary described it as whites just getting a “slap on the wrist” when it comes to getting in trouble with drugs.

In conclusion, this film was very eye opening. I would recommend it not only for the insight on the history that is discussed in the film, but for a realization on mass incarceration and African Americans daily lives in the world and in prisons. Not only has this been happening for years, but it’s still happening in today’s society. This documentary made me realize how we as a society need to work together and create a better equalization in the world for all races.






















“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP,https://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/.

Davis, Angela J. Policing the Black Man; Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment. Vintage

Books, a Division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018.

DuVernay, Ava, director. 13th. Netflix Official Site, 7 Oct. 2016, https://www.netflix.com/watch/80091741?trackId=13752289&tctx=1%2C1%2C106d69c7826aa8794f492091b67625fc0f788886%3A319e09427277a35300e888f6a0bdfca48620d662%2C%2C

Police Discretion: The Duality of Lethality

Media used: Frontline, Joe Sexton, November 29, 2018

I Don’t Want To Shoot You, Brother

The media source I reviewed is an episode of The Frontline Dispatch podcast titled “I Don’t Want to Shoot You, Brother.” In this episode the listener is led into the world of police use of force and discretion in the case of the shooting of R.J. Williams, though this case subverts expectation. The first officer to arrive at the scene is the focus of the episode, Stephen Mader. Williams repeatedly requests that Mader shoot him, holding a firearm and repeating his request. Mader identifies this as suicide by cop and elects to not fire his weapon on Williams. It was this decision that ultimately cost him his job after two other officers arrived on scene, eventually taking the life of Williams. In a shocking turn of events, the action taken against an officer in a shooting was that of being fired for not killing a visibly armed man.

Discretion and the use of force continuum are a deeply debated combination in law enforcement, but it is very rare that this outcome is seen. The case of Williams is a case study in the intersection of the two and the impact of the quality and quantity of information has on the outcome of a police interaction. The podcast creates an outline of the situation step by step before contextualizing the aftermath. The episode provides interesting insight on a phenomenon they refer to as “Blue Lives Matter More,” an idea that the mentality of a police officer revolves around making sure that they are the ones that go home at the end of the day. They cite an incident where an officer allowed a subject to chase them with a pipe before backup subdues the attacker. The officer is criticized by their peers for not taking action against the subject, but the family of the subject shows immense gratitude for not killing their family member.

The concept of Blue Lives Matter More can be seen in decisions such as Grahm v. Connor and Tennesee v. Garner  (Terrill, 2016) where the lines of acceptable use of force are drawn in vague terms and provide greater discretion on the part of the officer. When coupled with this case, it makes a clear argument that context matters and neither Mader nor the officer that shot Williams arguably made the wrong call. The standards set for “objectively reasonable force” are such that cases like this have unfortunate endings where two officers can have drastically different opinions on the situation (Terrill, 2016). Objectively reasonable force is the lynchpin of the issues around police use of force. There are cases like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray in which the officers had to make decisions in the moment that received tremendous public backlash with no official sanctions. Ronald Wright (2017) brings to light a system of police accountability that takes aim at cases such as those listed above and aided Mader in his civil suit against the police department: legal prosecution. Chief prosecutors are elected officials in the United States and as such the people have the power to ensure that their local prosecutor is doing their job to the satisfaction of the public. While Mader did not employ the chief prosecutor, this is still a strong lesson to be learned. Police accountability is a hurdle in the background of the case of Williams, but it is a feature nonetheless.

I personally believe that this episode provides an interesting look into the lesser known world of police internal politics. With that said, it is not what I would consider a starting point and would implore that a listener pay close attention and seek a foundational understanding elsewhere. Through personal experience I am able to sift between the shock of the outcome and the deeper issues with some review and rewinding, but it still took a few listens at times. The episode is a great chance to broaden horizons and introduce a listener to new ideas like “Blue Lives Matter More” and the mentality of a duty cop in limited scenarios. There are no winners or happy endings in this episode, but that is a critical element that I believe makes this podcast worth listening to. Punches are not pulled and heart strings are tugged. It is recommended that the listener keep expectations in check and do their best to see everything from the point of view of all participants more so than ever.




Terrill, W. (2016), Deadly Force. Criminology & Public Policy, 15: 491-496. doi:10.1111/1745-9133.12193

Wright, R. F. (2017). Elected Prosecutors and Police Accountability. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 3-20). Vintage Books.


The Cost of a Joint: The Case of Erimius Spencer

Media Used: SERIAL, SERIAL Podcast, 2020, LINK

          The media source I reviewed was the third episode of season three of the podcast SERIAL titled “Misdemeanor, Meet Mr. Lawsuit.” The episode turns a critical eye on police-community relations, more specifically that of police and the Black community. The episode starts in earnest after a segment regarding a community event that brings police and the community together to discuss relations in an informal, moderated setting where Samira Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, attends. The core of the episode is concerned more with the experience of Erimius Spencer, a Black man living in an apartment building in Euclid, Ohio. The episode is a first-hand look into a police brutality case and the minutiae that comes with trying to fight a system with a staggering upper hand. The issue at hand is twofold, containing the law enforcement officers and the legal system and the way in which they often work hand in hand with the protection of law enforcement, for better or worse.

The initial issue is the encounter Erimius has with law enforcement that results in a savage beating that leaves his orbital broken and his face swollen. In this case Erimius was stopped in the hallway as he was knocking on the door to a friend’s apartment, looking to ask for a cigarette. Officers were known to work the building off the clock and happened upon Erimius. They told him to stop, asked for his ID and received permission to search him. The search turned up a single marijuana cigarette which prompted an arrest from the officers, the point at which the trouble starts. Asking for the reason for arrest, Erimius was not answered, prompting the stiffening of his arm and further questioning. Officers continued to ignore his question before delivering a knee to his groin and an order to “Shut the fuck up.” Brought to the ground with an arm behind his back, the assaulting officer proceeds to kick Erimius in the face an indeterminate number of times. This is followed by being tased in the neck, back of his thigh, and his left chest. His heart. Seven total Taser discharges with notable burns. The case is a notable instance of overzealous force to subdue a subject; two police officers subduing a 5’6” Black man over a single marijuana cigarette.

In spite of the brutality of his arrest Erimius described the incident as only “uncomfortable” and that he was trying to avoid letting it get to him. Koenig outlines a number of statistics in the podcast, discussing the impacts of reports of police brutality on community relations and crime rates. This is only one consequence and another argument could be made that Erimius was racially profiled, adding another layer of distrust to the interaction. The race of the victim can serve to further increase the distrust between police and the community while simultaneously increasing the prevalence. According to Hutchins (2017) in her essay on racial profiling, “blacks who were the subject of such policing… felt more black…”(p. 106). This is exacerbated by a video mentioned as the cliffhanger of the episode in which an officer, whose testimony held great weight in the criminal charges being faced by Erimius, was recorded beating a Black driver during a traffic stop.

The distrust of police officers can easily bleed into distrust of the legal system itself with cases similar to Erimius when prosecutors attempt to remove journalists from a public proceeding and create testimony on a “bulge” in the defendant’s pocket. Davis (2017) corroborates two practices that appear in the case of Erimius: the stacking of charges on a defendant and the ease of creating probable cause. Erimius is given a sizable list of charges such as drug abuse, resisting arrest, theft, and criminal damaging. Cristallo corroborates this in a segment where he provides a brief outline of the practice and why they would have to take the bait in this instance. In regard to the ease of probable cause, Hutchins (2017) provides an explanation through their identification of “Race Plus” racial profiling with an example similar to Erimius’s story. This is when the officer uses the fact that an individual is Black and combines it with other factors, such as running in a high crime area or even knocking on a door in a nice apartment complex.
This episode of SERIAL was a candid look into the less favorable side of police interactions with an easy to follow and engaging timeline. There is no question as to the bias of the piece, but it reads like a modern muckraker aiming to take a stab at injustice. Koenig does an impeccable job of keeping the listener well informed without lacing the subject with their opinions. There is a relatively clear definition between opinion, fact, and circumstance in the piece with no attempt to hide any allegiances. It is clear everyone has a side and everyone is given their opinion. I would recommend this piece to anyone looking for an in depth example of the darker side of police interactions and no qualm with being caught with a well-executed cliffhanger.




Davis, A. J. (2017). The prosecution of black men. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 178-208). Vintage Books.

Hutchins, R. M. (2017). Racial profiling: The law, the policy, and the practice. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 95-134). Vintage Books.