Archive: Sep 2008

to offer a little context on social control at the republican national convention, the minneapolis strib published data on the number of arrests in each party’s national convention for 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008.

i’m skeptical of the data quality here, especially with respect to reporting differences in the number of arrests attributed to the convention. if the data can be trusted, however, arrests at republican conventions have outpaced those at democratic conventions for at least the last three conventions. the strib’s randy furst and anthony lonetree offer a useful companion piece regarding changes in convention policing since the 1999 WTO protests. an excerpt:

St. Paul and Denver each received $50 million in federal funds for policing the conventions. Tony Bouza, former Minneapolis police chief, said he thinks St. Paul could have handled the security with a few hundred extra police officers. “The only reason they did it was an orgy of overtime, subsidized by the United States government under the National Security Act,” he said.

hmm. ol’ chief bouza was never one to mince words…

it was certainly troubling to see all those images of riot police and masked anarchists in my hometown of good ol’ st. paul.

knowing that i had friends and former students on both sides of the lines, i worried that the clash might explode, that blood would be shed, and that careers and lives would be disrupted if not ruined.

and, did anyone else worry — just for a moment — that such a clash might usher in a repressive “law and order” response by the two major parties? don’t tell me that senator mccain isn’t ready to capitalize on such a moment, or that joe biden hasn’t already written the speech.

for better or worse, the conventions have ended, the out-of-towners have left, and the party platforms have been ratified. if you’d like a sneak preview of the role of crime in the coming debates, crimprofs points us to a helpful national criminal justice association guide to each party’s crime platform. a few excerpts and links:

The Democratic platform, adopted during the convention in Denver last week, includes a four-paragraph section on criminal justice focusing principally on support for local law enforcement and ending violence against women. On support for law enforcement, the platform states, “We will reverse the policy of cutting resources for the brave men and women who protect our communities every day. At a time when our nation’s officers are being asked both to provide traditional law enforcement services and to help protect the homeland, taking police off of the street is neither tough nor smart; we reject this disastrous approach. We support and will restore funding to our courageous police officers and will ensure that they are equipped with the best technology, equipment and innovative strategies to prevent and fight crimes.” …

“The Republican platform, adopted last week as delegates prepared to travel to Minnesota for this week’s convention, includes an eight-part criminal justice section on the topics of ending child pornography, gangs, sentencing, reforming prisons, federal law enforcement, fighting illegal drugs and protecting the victims of crime.”

i’m most interested in voting rights claims, but there’s much more fresh data in a new bureau of justice statistics publication:

Examines civil rights claims based on race, age, sex, or national origin involving employment, welfare, housing, voting, or other civil rights discrimination issues. It covers civil rights claims litigated in federal district courts from 1990 to 2006. Information is presented on trends in types of civil rights cases filed in federal district courts, the basis of federal court jurisdiction, case processing time, disposition of civil rights cases, and the types of trials that occur in the federal courts. In addition, this report examines who wins in civil rights trials and the estimated median monetary amount awarded to litigants.

Highlights include the following:

* Civil rights filings doubled in U.S. district courts from 1990 (18,922 filings) to 1997 (43,278 filings) and subsequently stabilized until 2003. From 2003 through 2006, the number of civil rights cases filed in U.S. district courts declined by 20%.
* During the period from 1990 through 2006, the percentage of civil rights cases concluded by trial declined from 8% to 3%.
* From 2000 to 2006 plaintiffs won just under a third of civil rights trials on average, and the median damage awards for plaintiffs who won in civil rights trials ranged from $114,000 to $154,500.