Friday, November 12, 2004

Midland PD Stops Minorities More Often

Midland police acknowledged stopping minorities more than whites, but dispute whether that constitutes racial profiling, according to a Nov. 7, 2004 Midland Reporter-Telegram article (no longer avalailable free). Reported the paper,

"An area of concern for not just Hispanics but other minorities is fear of racial profiling. In Texas, Hispanics are serving time in prison 2.5 times longer than whites.

"Lt. Jeff Darr of the Midland Police Department said efforts are ongoing to better track whether racial profiling exists. The MPD recently instituted a new way to process beyond state requirements tracking those stopped and searched.

"Regardless, Darr said there is no question Hispanics and blacks are being stopped and searched more frequently than whites.

“'We are taking a proactive approach to finding out why more Hispanics and African Americans are being stopped more,' Darr said. 'Whether it’s racial profiling is not known.'”

The comments came at a Texas LULAC town hall meeting in Midland last weekend. LULAC was promoting their agenda (report in pdf) for "pro-family" criminal justice policies; I should have mentioned it earlier, but was reminded because their final event, the last of a dozen around the state, will be in Huntsville tomorrow.

For those of you unfamiliar with Texas geography, Midland is a very conservative spot in far West Texas. Huntsville is in Central-East Texas, and is the site of the main prison center, including Texas Death Row.

The Midland paper gave a sense of other issues discussed at the LULAC event.

"LULAC statistics show one in 20 Texans are either incarcerated, or on probation or parole.

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice spends 90 percent of its $5 billion budget on prison beds with the remaining 10 percent on rehabilitation.

"The pro-family report outlines eight myths often associated with the system including incarceration lowers the crime rate and racial profiling does not occur. The report also contains recommendations for change including restructuring penalty levels and options for low-level, nonviolent offenders to serve sentences outside of prison. ...

"Centered at the heart of LULAC’s efforts for reform is the youth who are entering the criminal justice system at alarming rates. Locally, more than 900 youth – the majority Hispanic – stayed at the Barbara Culver Juvenile Justice Center over the past year. Of those, about 500 are repeat offenders, said Adolfo Salcido, director of Midland juvenile probation.

"Salcido emphasized youth have to be held accountable for their own actions, yet he said treatment programs are expensive and funding isn’t always there.

"He pinpoints the problems of youth offenders to the breakdown of the family with single parent homes and grandparents raising grandchildren."

Of course, a lot of these single parents and grandparents are raising kids alone because Mom or Dad is in prison for a petty drug offense, so LULAC's proposals for finding non-prison punishments sound like they would really help Midland's problem.

Stay tuned to find out whether LULAC's Texas organizing blitz on these topics pays off next Spring at the Legislature.

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