Segments in this Video

Stop-and-Frisk Policy (03:07)


The Broken Windows Theory argues that cutting down on petty crime will reduce major crimes, but the NYPD has been accused of racial profiling. Michael Torres was one of 50,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in 2011; he describes being stopped on the street.

Marijuana Arrest Project (02:13)

Torres' lawyer Scott Levy says the NYPD "manufactured" misdemeanors through stop-and-frisk. The Bronx Defenders Office has sued the city, arguing the policy violates civil rights. Torres has resisted system pressure to accept a plea bargain for two years.

Drug Free Zones (01:33)

New Haven created geographic sanctuaries around schools, daycares, and public housing within which people caught with drugs receive mandatory additional jail time. Most offenders plead guilty to avoid prison.

Geography of Punishment (04:06)

Drug free school zones cover 95% of New Haven. Connecticut State Senator Gary Holder-Winfield and non-profit director Laresse Harvey want to shrink the zones, arguing that they fail to deter drug dealers or protect children. The bill has failed repeatedly.

School Zone Effect on Neighborhoods (03:33)

New Haven corrections officer Shafiq Abdussabur says applying the drug free zone enhancement penalty puts marijuana users in jail, burdening communities and costing taxpayers unnecessarily. Six of Barbara Fair's seven sons have been arrested for possession, and served extra time.

Fighting the System vs. Pleading Guilty (04:38)

Torres struggles to keep his Bronx construction job while fighting his marijuana possession case in court. Fair's son Shelton reenacts his arrest for possession within a New Haven drug free school zone. He accepted a plea deal, knowing prison was inevitable.

Stop-and-Frisk Debate (03:41)

Levy briefs Torres on his impending court date; after two years and twelve dates, they hope his case will be heard. He says the policy is not reducing major crime but Sergeant Ed Mullins cites statistics showing 75% decreases in murder, rape, robbery, and assault.

Defending Geography Based Punishment (03:53)

Mullins presents a scenario in which stop-and-frisk can deter a car robbery. New Haven efforts to shrink drug free zones assume they overburden impoverished communities. NHPD narcotics officer Karl Jacobson says they help reduce crime.

Drug Free School Zone Senate Bill Hearing (03:23)

Fair challenged her son's arrest for possession within a drug free zone; he avoided a mandatory minimum sentence. Harvey begins the process of introducing legislation to shrink zones— arguing instead for addressing poverty and unemployment to reduce crime. Hear from bill supporters and opponents.

Hoping for a Trial (03:52)

Torres’ partner Betty Quinones discusses the financial strain of his misdemeanor marijuana case that has been delayed twelve times. Levy says NYPD policy has inundated the court system with bureaucracy; they hope to get a judge, court room, and police officer.

Waiting for Justice (04:57)

Connecticut's judiciary committee holds a hearing about legislation to shrink drug free school zones. The sentencing commission finds the zones unfairly penalize urban residents possessing small amounts of marijuana. Torres hopes his Bronx court date is not further delayed— his job is under threat.

Connecticut Senate Bill 259 (03:48)

Despite efforts to clear the Bronx judicial backlog, thousands of misdemeanor cases are still open. Torres finally gets his case heard. In Hartford, the judiciary committee votes to approve legislation shrinking drug free zones; the bill must now pass state congress.

Justice Served (03:15)

Torres’ marijuana misdemeanor case is dismissed for lack of evidence. In 2013, a judge found the stop-and-frisk policy violated constitutional rights; New York City is phasing it out. Connecticut's drug free zone reduction bill has died in the Education Committee.

Credits: Geography of Punishment: The System with Joe Berlinger (00:04)

Credits: Geography of Punishment: The System with Joe Berlinger

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Geography of Punishment: The System with Joe Berlinger

Part of the Series : The System with Joe Berlinger
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Crime rates of previous decades continue to have a large impact on how the criminal justice system functions today. Proactive policing strategies such as “drug-free zone” laws and “stop-and frisk” were implemented with the best of intentions, but critics say they are not working, and are in fact causing more hardship – for the community and the state’s taxpayers – filling up prisons and infringing on civil rights. What can be done to repair the public’s trust in the system? Are proactive policing strategies like “stop-and-frisk” working? The System looks at how where you live can determine your fate with the police.

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL129662

ISBN: 978-1-64023-502-1

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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