Your Job is to Arrest People

Millions of New York City’s annual budget is due to the amassing criminal summonses and arrest-related fees that it’s African American and Latino citizens receive five times more often than those who are white. But why is this true when a quota law is in place? Crime + Punishment in which filmmaker Stephen Maing strives to answer this question. What he finds is that the goals of the New York commissioner and the goals of his officers are incompatible in many detrimental ways. The goal of the NYPD is supposedly to get guns off of the street so that young men cannot join gangs, but in actuality, they are enforcing a broken windows policy that simply does not work. On the other hand, the officers are told that their job is to arrest an acceptable amount of people, in order to catch up with their peers. If they do not comply with these demands, these officers have been being punished and retaliated against, by having their shifts changed or even becoming ostracized by fellow officers.

Now, when these officers are desperate for numbers, they target the vulnerable; those without a vote, say, or power to go against law enforcement. This ultimately creates that statistic concerning the disproportionate rate of criminality for minorities, even though these charges are almost always dismissed. Yet even with a lack of probable cause, after the arrest or summons is carried out, every process in the criminal justice system costs money. The quota law has done nothing to reduce New York City’s bad habit of using its officers as a revenue producing agent for the city. This is all concerning a wording issue in how the law was written, since you cannot tell an officer outright that they need a specific number of arrests and summonses, but higher ranking officers can tell their subordinates that they don’t have enough. The system that the officers are forced to work under is made of numbers, and departments like New York City want cops that can keep their mouths shut. Ultimately, this is a public safety issue and public support is the solution, since the quota law was written in such a way that penalized police officers simply cannot and could not sue the department.

This documentary helped confirm and expand on what we discuss in class, but from a differing perspective. In the book Detained and Deported, we spoke about a shift toward arresting all undocumented immigrants, instead of just those who had committed a crime (Reagan, 2016). This point is similar in nature to the tendency for NYPD officers acting under quotas who seek out vulnerable targets who are likely to not be committing serious offenses. Culminating a large number of arrest and summonses due to smaller crimes can help an officer who needs to meet their perceived quota, but it also disproportionately impacts those who are not threats to society (Reagan, 2016). This is exactly what happened to one African American boy followed in the documentary, as he was targeted so heavily by police for a crime he did not commit, that they were known to follow him around the city until he was back at his home. Detained and Deported had also talked about how immigrants were being used as cash cows under the privatization of detention centers, which is parallel to how NYPD is treating its targeted minorities for costly arrests and summonses (Reagan, 2016).

Quota laws, or rather the lack of their enforcement, could also be seen as what Davis called a race-neutral policy (Davis, 2018). This is due to the fact that New York City’s system implicitly relies on numbers, and that inevitably produces the distorted outcomes in justice for vulnerable communities. By failing to project the ways in which things like supposed race-neutral policies and quotas will not be race-neutral once implemented, it has created the exact discrepancies that the quota law was put in place to prevent (Davis, 2018). Not only this, but the documentary revealed New York City’s incapability to follow the quota law could have appeared to be a race effect on crime at first glance, but it was really a socioeconomic measure for the state. Just as the UCR data for 2015 stated, this outgrowth of disadvantages was likely to disproportionately affect African American communities, as they are the most affected by the costly measures of the justice system (Davis, 2018).

Although the focus of disadvantaged police officers was contradictory to the class’s focus on citizens, I believe it only added to my understanding of the issue. It’s very important for others to understand this more holistic perspective, as the documentary has helped enforce the idea that the police officers are not the bad guys; bad policy implementation is. I would recommend this documentary because of this general idea alone, but more specifically because Stephen Maing had spent three years researching the unchecked and unexplored bias surrounding the quota law. Not only are minority citizens being targeted to wrongfully pay for something otherwise not effectively addressing crime, but police officers are being punished if they don’t participate in this biased practice. If an officer sees no reason to give arrests or summons, then it is reasonable to say that crime is already being effectively addressed and there may be a reduction in crime. If this isn’t something to be celebrated rather than punishable for an officer, Crime + Punishment leads you to beg the question; what is the job of a police officer? Is an officer failing at his job if he doesn’t arrest people enough people? If not, then why are these officers being retaliated against?

By Jenna Albitz



Crime Punishment. (2018). Retrieved from

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

Regan, M. (2016). Detained and deported: stories of immigrant families under fire. Boston: Beacon Press.


Just Mercy Blog

The media source I chose for this post was the movie, Just Mercy. This movie ( was produced by the famous actor in it, Michael B. Jordan and Asher Goldstein and was released on January 10th, 2020. This movie follows the main character, Bryan Stevenson, who just graduated from Harvard and heads down to Alabama to defend the wrongfully convicted. It emphasized the importance of unfair institutions and describes the racism, corruption and cruelty that African Americans encounter on a daily basis.

This movie opens with Bryan Stevenson going to visit his first death row prisoner, Henry. Bryan explains to him how he became so passionate about criminal defense law after he had an internship with the Southern Center for Human Rights. He learned that the system was built to punish the poor more than the rich. His first case he represented a successful black businessman from a poor community in Monroeville, Alabama. He was wrongfully convicted of killing a white woman and sentenced to death row. Stevenson explains that racial bias and presumption of guilt led to Jonnie D’s conviction. He begins his case by visiting his family at their family home to get some insight on what may have happened. Of course, they were hesitant to accept his offer because the previous attorney took all their money and left. Once he explained to them that this is a nonprofit organization and they owe him no money they could not decline his offer. He then goes to visit Jonnie D in prison and when he does, Jonnie shows him nothing but happiness that Bryan talked to his family and is going to help. Throughout this movie we see the openly racist sheriffs, District Attorney and investigators that pursued his conviction. Together they bribed witnesses into false testimony, hid evidence and forced Meyers to testify even after he tried not to. Bryan was doing everything in his power to help Mr. McMillian, from staying up for hours to finding hidden evidence all to set this wrongfully convicted man free. He visits Meyers in prison to maybe get some information off of him, but he gives none. Once Stevenson uncovered the tapes of Meyer’s first statement that he knew nothing about the case, he revisited him at the prison. Meyer’s was hesitant at first but then told him he did frame him. Over this case Stevenson and his associates pursued a retrial, direct appeal, and a postconviction appeal on his behalf. When the D.A said there was going to be no retrial, he was determined to get justice. He sent the new evidence and Meyer’s tapes to the Supreme Court and they allowed a new trial. The D.A. began to doubt the integrity of the states conviction and confirmed that Jonnie D was innocent. In the final court hearing, Stevenson motions for the state to drop all charges and when the judge asked the D.A. he approved.

This movie expands on a lot of what we have learned in this class. Especially the last book we read, Policing the Black Man. Bryan Stevenson, the main character in this movie, is actually the first author to inform us in this book. He explains, “People of color in the United States, particularly young black men, are burdened with a presumption of guilt and dangerousness” (Stevenson, 4).That’s why Meyers was forced to frame Jonnie D, because he was an easier target for people to believe he was the murderer. We also see a lot of corruption throughout this movie towards the black community. In Angela Davis’s chapter she explains that, “Cops appear to be omnipresent and omnipotent. They seem to be everywhere, and they appear to have the power to do whatever they want-especially in black neighborhoods” (Davis, 178). One example from the movie that stuck with me was when Bryan was entering the prison. The guard stripped him almost naked and asked him to bend over just to mess with him. No attorney is stripped like that when entering a correctional facility, but because he was black it happened to him.

The content shown here has given me an even bigger understanding of the issues presented. It was already clear to me that the justice system is corrupt and there is an issue with wrongfully convicting people but coming from a true story and seeing it from their view opens your eyes much more. It presents to us how African Americans are treated in our criminal justice system whether a criminal or an attorney. I would recommend this to media source to everyone!! It is very informative, motivational and shows you a true case of a wrongfully convicted black man and the struggles he and his family endures.



The Hate U Give Blog


The media source I chose for this post was the movie, The Hate U Give. This movie ( was produced by George Tillman Jr. and premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2018, and was released in the United States on October 5, 2018. This movie follows the main character Starr Carter, a black teenager who switches between her black community and the wealthy prep school their parents sent them too.

The movie starts off by Starr’s dad, Maverick, teaching her and her siblings what to do if a police officer stops the car, they are in. Put your hands on the dashboard and do what they say. The movie then jumps to when Starr was sixteen and balancing her social life in two circles. Her friend invites her to a party to help her fight when she runs into her lifelong friend, Khalil. Their romantic conversation was interrupted by gun shots, so they ran to his car and drove away safely. Until just a couple minutes later, when he is driving Starr home he gets pulled over. When the cop walked up to his window, he was very aggressive which led Khalil to ask him what he had done wrong. When that was asked, the officer became more upset and told him to get out of the car to search him for weapons. When searching for weapons, he found nothing but Khalil’s wallet, which he takes back to the police car. Then he failed to do what Starr’s father always told her to do when approached by a police officer. He reached into the window and asked her if she was okay and reached for his brush. The officer then instantly fired three rounds at Khalil killing him. After handcuffing Starr next to her dying friend, the officer screams for him to show the weapon only to find a hairbrush sitting next to him. After experiencing two of her best friends’ deaths, Starr suffers from PTSD and seems to wonder around unsure of what she is still doing there at all. Her classmates do not relate or understand her problems whatsoever which makes it much harder for her. She goes through everyday dealing with people saying stuff to her and having publicity that she was never used to. But having the publicity she does, she uses it to her advantage. When protesting she was always afraid to use her voice because she was the witness, and nobody knew that. When the final protest came and police started loading out with riot shields and bombs, she knew it was her time. She grabbed the megaphone and told everyone that she was the witness and saw the whole thing. She screamed for Khalil’s justice along with everyone else and was proving a point.

This movie confirms much of what I have learned in not only this class, but most of my criminology classes. It takes the time to explain the inequalities and barriers African Americans face in the everyday life. In our class, we learned about racial profiling and police brutality which reflects this movie to its core. The Stanford Open Policing Project did a study, “The data show that officers generally stop black drivers at higher rates than white drivers…”( E. Pierson, C. Simoiu, J. Overgoor, S. Corbett-Davies, D. Jenson, A. Shoemaker, V. Ramachandran, P. Barghouty, C. Phillips, R. Shroff, and S. Goel, vol. 4). This is a perfect example on what happened to Khalil. The officers reasoning for pulling him over was he did not use a turn signal when switching lanes, but how many people a day do you see doing that? It is proof that he was pulled over because of his skin color. This content confirms so much of what we have learned, but one that sticks out to me is the famous case of Tamir Rice. Who was a twelve year old boy playing with a toy gun in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. As explained, “An eyewitness called 911 and told the dispatcher that there was someone in the park waving a gun, describing the person as “probably juvenile” and the gun as “probably fake” (Fairfax, 218). When the officers showed up without hesitation, they instantly shot him. Without even questioning or investigating him. The grand jury failed to file charges in Tamir’s case just like Khalil’s, but it is known that if a police officer is involved in a shooting, they are less likely to be indicted.

The content of this movie really made me mad because it still continues to happen. This movie did such a great job of presenting the issues and barriers blacks face in our communities. I knew that there is such a huge issue with police and blacks, but this movie delivers these messages in such emotional ways. It was like I could feel how Starr felt. This movie opened my eyes a lot, especially being from Pittsburgh and having the Antwon Rose case in my area. Incidence like these make me want to make a change in the criminal justice system and the ways officers interact with blacks.












Illegal Immigration Crisis

The media source I chose to watch was a documentary called Between Borders: American Migrant Crisis by The New York Times. This short film was based off thousands of children fleeing from Central America to Mexico to then get to the United States, illegally. In the documentary, these children were filmed to show how they go about this process to try to escape. These young children (ages 19 and under) leave their families homes, without telling them, to try to escape the drugs, violence, and corruption. This film gave insight to how thousands of people are struggling in these countries and what they have to go through in their everyday lives. They do not feel safe and try to flee to America for a better life; whether it is a safer alternative through the route they have to take, or not.

One of the key points presented in this documentary was how corrupt governments truly are. After watching the film, it made me feel empathy for many of these people struggling to get to the United States for a better life. The film showed how the gangs and police work with each other and how the police basically protect the gangs. Many kids were shown huffing glue right in front of police, and nothing was done. People do this to pass the time by and so that they’re not truly “living” in the world with what they are surrounded by. How could one not blame another for doing things they do to get somewhere for protection, better rights, jobs, involving families, education and more?

When we discussed in class what comes to mind when we think of immigration, the first thought that came to my mind was “the wall” and how the United States is trying to protect us from these illegal immigrants coming over. In reality, and what was shown in the documentary, these young children are just trying to make a better life for themselves. They want to protect themselves and their families. They walked miles, crossed through rivers, and tried to stay hidden from the border protection patrol. If they get caught, gangs could take their families and make them do horrific acts, and even worse acts. This shows how desperate these individuals are and the risk they are willing to take to try to get across the border without getting caught.

Statistics show that apprehensions of people crossing on the Southwest border illegally peaked in 2000 at 1.64 million and have generally declined since, totaling 396,579 in 2018 (Illegal Immigration Statistics). There are most likely more undocumented attempts to how many people have tried to cross the border illegally, as well that may have gotten caught by gangs, etc. It was shown in the documentary that others help individuals on crossing over. They gave these young children shelter and food before they took off in the long journey. This documentary showed how much effort into their lives they put into just getting to the states.

Another key point discussed in the documentary were individuals getting deported who lived in America for years. These people had to start their lives over again, getting sent back home through busses back to Mexico, some either who have over stayed their green card, did not even know they were not a U.S. citizen (from being there since birth) and some for minor charges while not being a citizen. This is in relation to our discussion on crimmigration laws in class. The crimmigration article writes, “Today, an aggravated felony includes theft, use of false documents, and failure to appear in court, as well as rape and murder,” (Menjivar 5). These are all regards into immigrants who commit these crimes, and must be deported. People in the United States commit some of these crimes (theft) every day and do not get treated the way these immigrants do.

After watching this documentary, I have gain a lot more insight on illegal immigration. I recommend this documentary because it has led me to feel more empathy for these innocent people and their lives. I believe more needs to be done to avoid these individuals from crossing over illegally, whether it would be from the United States itself from making it easier to get a green card to come over to states. Another possible solution could be government changes in other countries. I feel compassion for these individuals that fear for their lives every day in their own countries and not feeling welcomed by other countries. Sometimes some take living in America for granted and this documentary should be a reminder on why we should always be thankful we have protection, education, and the success that we do in the United States.



















Menjivar, Cecilia, Gomez Cervantes A, Alvord D. “The Expansion of ‘Crimmigration, Mass Detention, and Deportation.” Sociology Compass. 2018.

Robertson, Lori. “Illegal Immigration Statistics.”, 7 June 2019.


Documentary Link:

Mass Incarceration: Privatizing Prisons and Funding Distrust

Media used: Criminal (In)Justice, David Harris, February 6, 2018, LINK

          The media source I reviewed is the 75th episode of the podcast Criminal (In)Justice titled “Punishment for Profit.” This episode of the podcast focuses on the issues of the privatization of the prison industrial complex and the concerns that arise when the duration of an offender’s stay in the facility has a direct link to the pockets of those in charge of the facility. This episode brings Lauren-Brooke Eisen, the author of Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration, sharing their expertise in the matter in order to shed light on the issue. Some major points of the arguments made include the topics of expansion into immigration, hidden costs of the privatized prisons, and the guaranteed bed provision.

An argument raised by Eisen is the questionability of adding immigration to the pool of inmates that are covered by private corporations given their vulnerable and delicate situation. Due to the political environment and the concerns over quality, is it safe to entrust this party into the care of a profit-oriented facility? The second element Eisen covers is that the costs of private prisons are often underestimated, leaving out the money that must be put into oversight. Much like a public correctional facility, private facilities must be monitored to ensure they are up to code, observing policies, and not involving themselves in questionable or illegal acts. Eisen goes on to mention that in most studies, these figures are not factored into the total cost in an analysis of the money saved through the use of privatized corrections. In regard to money being saved, money can often be lost as a result of the guaranteed bed provisions. Eisen explains that these provisions charge the state based on the number of beds available rather than filled, effectively encouraging the state to fill the prison to capacity in order to ensure that they are not losing money. This often becomes an issue when deciding to continue or cancel a contract with a private prison, giving the prison power over the government due to the fact that the government has to decide whether or not they can handle the massive influx of prisoners that would accompany the closing of a facility packed to capacity. These are just a few of the issues brought up in the podcast and the wealth of knowledge offered by Eisen is much larger and goes further in depth on these issues.

It is worth noting that even if there is no injustice going in with the system of privatized corrections, simply seeming like there is injustice can spark tensions between law enforcement and the community. More specifically, the Black and Hispanic community due to the higher rates of incarceration compared to Whites. Relations between the Black community and law enforcement are especially strained in the current political climate, a fact that is not helped by disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates as well as longer overall sentences. According to Hager, blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested than whites (as cited in Davis, 2018), which often leads to an inherent distrust of the law enforcement. When this is further complicated by their overwhelming presence in prisons, making up nearly 35 percent of prison populations (Davis, 2018) along with the data collected from the U.S. Sentencing Commission that observed an increase of sentence length of 19.5 percent for black men compared to their white counterparts.( Davis, 2018) When these factors are introduced to the knowledge that people are actively profiting off the prison industrial complex, doubts and concerns will understandably be raised and may incite further distrust between the Black community and the Criminal Justice System.

This growth of distrust does not stop with just blacks, especially given the political climate surrounding illegal immigration in the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security in 2016, nearly 65 percent of the immigrant-detained population is held within privatized detention centers (Menjívar, et. al., 2018). As mentioned in the podcast, this is in no way to suggest there is anything insidious going on or any ill will, this point is only brought up to identify a possible source of distrust and concern. When nearly two thirds of the facilities are profit based, how can it shift the focus of the institution from wanting to keep inmates out from the idea that full beds are good? The recent waves of aggressive immigration enforcement and the previous criminalization of immigration, such as the upgrading of the offense of reentry after being deported to an aggravated felony add to this concern (Menjívar, et. al., 2018). How does this reflect on the criminal justice system?

This episode of the Criminal (In)Justice podcast is a perfect way for anyone looking to expand their thinking on the topic of the interaction between mass incarceration and the privatization of prisons. The audio quality from Eisen leaves something to be desired and may require multiple attempts to understand at times. In regard to the quality of the information and the guest speaker themselves, the episode is thought provoking and aims to inform rather than impose opinions. While this review focused more on the issues expressed by Eisen, the podcast also covers the finer qualities of a system of privatized prisons, a refreshing experience. In its entirety, episode 75 is an impressive delve into critical thinking topics that commonly arise when privatization is involved.




Davis, A. J. (Ed.). (2017). Policing the Black man: Arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Vintage Books.

Menjívar, C., Gómez Cervantes, A., & Alvord, D. (2018). The expansion of “crimmigration,” mass detention, and deportation. Sociology Compass, 12(4), e12573.

Welcome to Crim 410_001 Media iBlog!

Welcome to our race, ethnicity, class, and crime media iblog. Students will be blogging about and posting their analysis and review of media productions related to class/poverty and crime, race and crime, and ethnicity and crime. It is hoped that this iBlog will generate discourse on these topics. In addition, this blog will provide a review of a long list of media productions related to these topics that others can use in deciding what documentaries, podcasts, even movies on these topics may be most informative and worthwhile. Links to the media productions reviewed are provided.

-Ronda Engstrom