Saturday, December 10, 2011

August 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Freedom of Speech?

I am no longer allowed to publish my work on the internet because it may be considered inappropriate collaboration.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Elite Dominated Institution (EDI)

Well, law school is officially an elite dominated institution. If you didn't summer in the Hamptons, then you're not welcome here. I filled out my student loan application and promissory note in March...when I logged in to find out the disbursement dates all records were lost...there was not a record of me having applied. So, I filed all the paperwork a second time on August 14th. Guess what? It was lost again. It's like a direct message to me, you're not our kind. So here I am without some of my books, and no money to buy them until the third week of class. Am I really suppose to believe it's some cosmic coincidence? It's seriously like being poor is a disablity. Just another way of keeping the brother down. There is NO assistance for book purchases and I'm without books for one of my classes and our financial aide (i.e. $18,500 in student loans, and $12,000 in blood, sweat, and tears scholarship money) doesn't come until September 1st. How fair is that? You're poor, that means you're not good enough to be part of our group...yay

What happened to the American Dream? If you work hard you get ahead... right? But it really doesn't matter your I.Q., grades, how much you've learned, how much you've studied, worked, etc. WHEN IT REALLY COMES DOWN TO IT, IT'S ALL A MATTER OF HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE, AND HOW WELL CONNECTED YOU ARE!!! Knowledge does not equal power...sorry, but it's money that equals power! I hope that my learning this the hard way may be an example to others not to follow the path that I have chosen.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Supreme Court of California
June 30, 1936
6 Cal.2d 674, 59 P.2d 144
December 17, 1932, Harry F. Mix bought a chicken pie from the Ingersoll Candy Co. which contained a chicken bone sliver that injured him when he swallowed it.
Procedural History
Harry F. Mix filed suit against the Ingersoll Candy Co. for damages in the sum of $10,000. Judgment was found for the defendants, and plaintiff appealed. Judgment was affirmed by the Superior Court, and that decision was appealed.
Whether or not food served to a customer is a service or a good. Implied warranty of fitness would apply under section 1735 of the Civil Code if the food was a good. The doctrine of implied warranty is not applicable if the restaurant offered only a service.
Secondly, if served food is a good, can it be found to be reasonably fit for human consumption?
Food served in a restaurant or dining room is a good. Food furnished shall be reasonably fit for human consumption.
Ratio Decidendi
Dining rooms and restaurants are in a better position to know the quality of the food than the customer, and are therefore liable to warranty the fitness of their food similarly as a grocer or preparer of canned food goods would.
It is not unreasonable for a chicken pie to occasionally contain chicken bones. Much as is it not unreasonable for a cherry pie to occasionally contain cherry pits. The chicken pie would still be fit for human consumption. It is not unusual for meat to contain bones.
No Dissent


Supreme Court of Florida, Special Division B
March 22, 1949
39. So.2d 476
The Gibbs ate at the hotel dining room of the Lauderdale Biltmore Corporation and became sick as the result of a food borne illness.
Procedural History
Boggs and Delbridge Gibbs, of Jacksonville filed suit against the Lauderdale Biltmore Corporation for damages resulting from food borne illness. Demurrer was sustained and the Gibbs appealed. Appellate court issued a final judgment in favor of the Biltmore Corporation and Gibbs appealed to the Supreme Court of Florida.
Whether or not unwholesome food served to a customer is a service or a good. Implied warranty of fitness would apply if the food was a good. The doctrine of implied warranty is not applicable if the restaurant offered but a service (of providing unwholesome food).
Reversed and remanded.
Food served in a restaurant or dining room is a good.
Ratio Decidendi
Dining rooms and restaurants are in a better position to know the quality of the food than the customer, and are therefore liable to warranty the fitness of their food similarly as a grocer or preparer of canned food goods would.
posted by pre-blawger at 8/15/2006 02:57:00 AM | 0 comments

July 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006

CRJ 450 Senior Seminar

It is widely speculated that the criminal justice system is biased against poor, young, urban, black, males. This is the stereotypical image of the “typical” criminal portrayed in the mass media. To detect any unfair bias that may exist within the criminal justice system, I have proposed research that would compare the conviction rates and incarceration lengths of “white” vs. “non-white” offenders who have been convicted of similar crimes.
This is an important topic because there of the imposition or execution of the death penalty in a racially discriminatory pattern. The requirement to show proof of discrimination is that the death sentences are being imposed or executed upon persons of one race with a frequency disproportionate to their representation among the numbers of persons arrested for, charged with, or convicted of, death-eligible crimes.
My proposed research would specifically address the issue of conviction in the state of Michigan, for a crime that has historically been the basis for execution in many states. For instance, in 1848 the state of Virginia required the execution of blacks for any crime that a white would receive a sentence of three or more years. Rape of a white woman in the south was a crime punishable by death, but only if the offender was black. The research that I have proposed would specifically identify if black offenders in the state of Michigan are being arrested, charged, or convicted of these particular crimes with a frequency disproportionate to their representation among the population.
Literature Review
In the state of Maryland from July 1st, 1987 through July 1st, 1995 a sample was drawn consisting of 14,633 offenders who committed a crime against person. The data was gathered from the records of the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts. Seventy-three percent of the offenders were sentenced to prison. The mean sentence length of those sentenced to prison was forty-five months. The mean sentence length of the entire sample was thirty-three months. The mean age of the sample was twenty-eight years old (Bushway 2001).
Among African American offenders the mean sentence length was thirty-five months, while the mean sentence length of whites was twenty-eight months. This is a disparity of twenty-eight percent. When examining the in/out decision of the judge as to who gets a prison sentence, a disparity was noted of 5.3% higher percentage for African Americans. This was determined to be a statistically significant difference for the probation/prison decision (Bushway 2001).
From the disparity of the prison sentence length it was determined that twenty percent of the disparity could be accounted for by race. Fourteen percent was accounted for by the severity of the offense and the prior offense record working against the African American offenders as they are over-represented among those with prior criminal offense records. Smaller sentences were allowed when the judge determined that the severity of the offense and the prior offenses did not match the recommendations of the sentencing guidelines. This worked fourteen percent less often for African Americans than it did for whites. However, the remaining six percent was accounted for solely by the presiding judge’s discretion (Bushway 2001).
Judges in Maryland formed a committee in May of 1983 that voted to begin a program on July 1, 1983. The program was designed to (1) increase equity, (2) establish explicit sentencing policy, (3) inform new judges, and (4) increase understanding of the sentencing process. The program was applied to the Circuit Court of the state of Maryland only. The aforementioned study was conducted to see how effective the measure was (Bushway 2001).
In a study of an unnamed northeastern state a research team set out to find evidence of paternalism towards women. They questioned whether women are treated more lenient than men, as women are half as likely to be incarcerated. Their sample was comprised of N=29,000. This sample included 21,753 black males, 5,247 white males, 1,647 black females, and 318 white females. They divided the sample by race and by gender and found that when divided by race eighteen percent of the black women were sent to prison, nineteen percent of the white males were sentenced to prison, while a similar number of white females were sent to prison. However, twenty-five percent of the black male offenders were sentenced to prison (Spohn 1985)!
Their findings were that they did not find evidence of gendered paternalism (what they anticipated finding), but rather evidence of racial discrimination against black males. They set out to determine if female defendants were treated more lenient, and found that racial discrimination exists against black males (Spohn 1985).
In the state of Pennsylvania during the years 1985-1987 an exhaustive sample was drawn of all felony and misdemeanor convictions that took place after July 21st, 1982. The sample size was sixty-one thousand, two-hundred, and ninety-four. (N = 61,294) The research attempted to control the variables of severity and history. The severity of the offense was the degree of criminal conduct and the type of crime. The history variable was the prior criminal convictions of the offender. The dependent variables were the decision to imprison, and the length of sentence (Kramer 1993).
The Findings suggest that black defendants were more likely to be incarcerated (r = .08), and they received longer sentences (r = .11). However, black defendants were more likely to have committed a more severe offense (r = .15), and to have a greater likelihood of having a prior criminal history (r = .10). The severity of the crime accounts for fifty-seven percent of the explained variation (R2), while prior criminal history accounted for twenty-seven percent of the explained variation (R2) (Kramer 1993).
Noted was the sentencing disparity that black defendants were eight percent more likely to be sentenced to jail, but when correlated to those sent to prison the disparity was only two percent (r = .02). The disparity of sentence length was only an average difference of twenty-one days. Therefore, race did not have an effect on sentence length, but somewhat effected the likelihood to be incarcerated. In searching for an explanation of this disparity the research looked into guideline departure. In the state of Pennsylvania judges were allowed to depart from the formal sentencing guidelines if they provided a written explanation for their decision. The departure from the sentencing guideline was permissible if the judge felt that the sentence would punish the defendant unfairly for their crime, or that the sentence would conflict with the intent of the legislators who had made the guidelines (Kramer 1993).
This sentencing departure was found to be present in thirty percent of the cases with a white defendant, but only twenty six percent of the time with a black defendant. A series of five judges were questioned about this sentencing disparity. The judges explained that (1) a black defendant was more likely to use a gun or be involved in drugs, (2) they were not knowledgeable about law and the system, (3) there is a reluctance to sent young white offenders to prison, (4) violence in prisons makes it difficult to send young middle-class males to prison, and finally that (5) the volume of drug cases forms the bulk of the racial disparity (Kramer 1993).
John Kramer states that blacks comprise thirteen percent of the population, yet make up fifty percent of the prison population. In spite of this enormous disparity, he maintains that it is due to the propensity of blacks to commit more severe crimes (severity) more often (history). The two correlates of severity and history are more accurate predictors of imprisonment and sentence length. However, this conclusion ignores the disproportional arrest rates, and disregards the victim-offender racial bias [black offenders with white victims receiving far harsher punishments], and generalizes in that it relies on data from only one state. He seems satisfied only that he has found two other variables that have a stronger correlation than race. However, even when taken together these two variables account for only eighty-four percent of the explained variation. The remaining sixteen percent of the variation is left to remain explained only by race.
Martha Myers posed the question, “Is the law color-blind?”. Her research examined the state of Georgia. She drew a sample of sixteen thousand, seven hundred and ninety-eight felons (N = 16,798). These felons were convicted during the time period of 1976 through June of 1982. The data was secured from the Georgia Department of Corrections. She examined the sentence decision (in/out), and the length of sentence. She controlled for the seriousness of the offense (based on type) and the prior arrests. Findings were that race accounts for one percent (1%) of the explained variance with regards to the imprisonment decision. However, length of sentence was on average two and a quarter years longer for whites (Myers 1986).
The contention is made that significance of race is not a constant, but rather varies with time and place. When blacks victimize whites the offense is treated more severe. Essentially the treatment of black offenders depends on whom they victimize. Discrimination against blacks is especially pronounced in death penalty cases. The district attorney of the location was quoted as saying, “just one nigger cutting up another” [is a] “junk” [case]. Georgia has a lower black imprisonment rate than other regions of study (Myers 1986).
In the case of Coker v. Georgia, decided on June 29th, 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of capital punishment in rape cases was unconstitutional. The court issued only a single page opinion that cited the Eight and Fourteenth amendments. They found selective use of the death penalty in that execution was sought disproportionately when a black male raped a white female. The main variable in the execution of rapists is the race of the victim. Blacks were found to be seven times more likely to face the death penalty (36% of the time) when the victim was white. The death penalty was sought only two percent of the time when the victim was black or when the offender was white and the victim was white (Dorin 1981).
In the sentencing history of Georgia it was found that use of capital punishment for the crime of rape had been used to execute forty-eight whites, four hundred and five blacks, and two others. In a small study of South Carolina it was found that for a sample of fifty-five execution eligible offences for rape yielded thirty-four blacks, and twenty-one whites. The blacks were found to have a forty-seven percent likelihood of execution when their victims were white. However when the victims were black or the offender was white, the rate of execution was only fourteen percent (Dorin 1981).
Crime is exhorbint in destroyed inner-city. Is there discrimination among police, prosecutors, courts, and correctional agencies? The ultimate question is this: are blacks imprisoned unfairly in relation to the amount of crime they commit? The answer can be found not by looking solely at the arrest ratio of index crimes (3.6 blacks arrested to every 1 white arrested), but rather by examining the prison differential which is seven to one. [The prison differential is that per capita difference of 1098 per 100,000 blacks imprisoned, but only 168 per 100,000 white males; a differential of nearly 7 to 1 (1098/168)] (Morris 1988).
1. Every one white male in prison, more than seven blacks are in prison. There
has been a greater discrepancy in the last thirty years since the civil rights movement. In 1933 blacks made up twenty-five percent of the prison population. Today they account for over half of the prison population.
2. In their 20’s, one in twelve black males are in prison or jail.
3. One in thirty blacks dies as intentional homicide victims. During the ages of 15-44, the leading cause of death is homicide.
4. Blacks are no more likely to reoffend than whites are. Similar figures exist for nearly all class of recidivism regardless of race. The differences are significant only when considering the first offense of a given crime.
5. Black middle-class leaves inner-city behind to decay, but do not themselves exhibit higher criminal patterns than the general population.
Forty-two percent of death row is black. In Georgia today (1988) the prosecutors seeks death penalty in seventy percent of the cases involving a black killer and a white victim. The death penalty is sought in only fifteen percent of the cases when the killer is white and the victim is black. The Supreme Court finds that this is not unconstitutional via the interpretation of McCleskey. The RAND Corporation has studied this issue and concluded that eighty percent of the differential can be accounted for by the over representation of blacks committing crimes (and therefore the inflated arrest rates), but also concluded that twenty percent of the disparity is accounted for by discrimination (Morris 1988).
The underlying problem is the social isolation of an increasingly concentrated underclass. Among unwed mothers (comprising twenty percent of all U.S. households), fifteen percent are white, and sixty percent are black. The law and order movement is anti-black, and anti-underclass (Morris 1988).
Randal Thomson attempts to identify five flaws in the research that deals with racial discrimination in sentencing:
Sentencing patterns fluctuate with contextual variation.
Theses contextual variations are the (1) the variation as a function of changes over time, (2) variation as a function of jurisdiction, (3) variation as a function of the judge, (4) variation as a function of the type of decision, and finally (5) variation as a function of the victim-defendant relationship (Thomson 1981).
Undetected discrimination may be widespread, but racial sentencing disparity is widespread. To demonstrate as an example Thomson chose to identify the crime of armed robbery in one unnamed southeastern state for the years 1969 (N=251), 1973 (N=441), and 1977 (N=502). The findings were that prior incarceration and RACE significantly influence sentence length. Anticipating the counter-argument I would like to point out that yes, sure this may show sentencing discrimination in one southeastern state, but does that include everywhere we look (Thomson 1981)?
Stanley Rothman, in his article “Execution by Quota”, cites the March 17th, 1994 Racial Justice Act that was incorporated into the Omnibus Crime Control Bill. The Act would have explicitly prohibited “the imposition or execution of the death penalty in a racially discriminatory pattern.” The prima facie evidence required to show proof of discrimination would be that the death sentences are being imposed or executed upon persons of one race with a frequency disproportionate to their representation among the numbers of persons arrested for, charged with, or convicted of, death-eligible crimes (Rothman, 1994).
Execution has been challenged on moral and religious grounds. The argument being that the state is acting as a representative on behalf of the people, who are bound by religious commandment to not kill. If the state sentences an individual to death on behalf of the people of the state, then to carry out that execution would dirty the hands of all the individuals whom the state professes to represent. Execution has also been challenged on Constitutional grounds in that it is a violation of the eighth amendment’s cruel & unusual punishment clause. Furthermore, because of the arbitrary and capricious application with which prosecutors and judges apply the death penalty, it amounts to essentially a state-sponsored game of Russian roulette (Rothman, 1994).
In 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that capital punishment is not unconstitutional, but the way that it was practiced was? In the case of Furman v. Georgia (1972) the court decided that racial discriminatory patterns of sentencing and execution rates that are evidenced by the comparison between white offenders and black offenders were inherently unconstitutional. The court ruled that this was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. These extremely pronounced patterns are particularly troublesome when the offender is black, and the victim is white. In interpreting the Racial Justice Act it was deemed that the authorities must demonstrate that any racial disparities in sentencing are “clearly and convincingly” explained by non-racial factors.
We should be reminded of the application of the preemptory strike used to exclude black jurors on a case-by-case / jury-by-jury basis. The prosecutor may simply dismiss a potential juror giving no explanation, but then if the strike is questioned on ground of racial discrimination, the prosecutor may simply point to some absurdity as if that explains away everything. For example [in relation to “clearly and convincingly” explained by non-racial factors], if a black man were to murder a young white woman, and he received the death penalty the prosecutor would just simply have stressed the fact that she was a young victim who had her whole life ahead of her; and this would justify the use of the death penalty. If the offender where a white man, and he murdered a young black woman, the issue would simply never be raised because the prosecutor WOULD NOT SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY! I cannot imagine more clear evidence that this is a racist application of the harshest penalty that the courts can hand down; the death penalty (Cole, 2000).
However, if more clear evidence were required, there are other studies that show racial discrimination takes place at different times and in different courts. Studies which reveal for instance, that in 1848 Virginia required the execution of blacks for any crime that a white would receive a sentence of three or more years. Rape of a white woman in the south was a crime punishable by death, but only if the offender was black. The Georgia Penal Code of 1816 provided that if a black man raped a white woman, it was a capital offense. However, if a white man raped a black woman he merely received a fine. This is incontrovertible proof of racism in the American Criminal Justice system in 1848, and in 1816 (Free 2002).
Even when not prescribed by law, racism in criminal sentencing continues to flourish. H.C. Brearley studied South Carolina between 1920 and 1926, and he found that black were twice as likely to be convicted of murder, and three times as likely to be executed upon conviction. The years 1915-1927 were the records from which he drew his data from the courts of South Carolina. Numerous researchers have since supported Brearley’s findings for the years 1930-1960 (Brearley, 1969).
Joseph Gastwirth examined two cases in which racial discrimination was argued before the court. In the first case, Stephens v. State, a conviction under the Georgia state law was appealed. The conviction was for the second conviction of sale of a controlled substance, or possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver second offense. The defense argued that the application of the law was in violation of both the United States constitution, and the state constitution of Georgia in that it was racially discriminatory and in violation of the equal protection clause (Gastwirth 1997).
The defense submitted as evidence state and county statistical data that was gathered from the Georgia Department of Corrections. The data showed that of the defendants who were eligible for the sentence enhancement, only one out of one-hundred and sixty eight eligible white defendants received the punishment enhancement, while two-hundred and two of the twelve-hundred and nineteen eligible black defendants received the enhancement. Furthermore they argued that ninety-eight percent of the prison inmates or three-hundred and sixty nine out of three-hundred and seventy five, of the prison inmates convicted under this law were African-American, while only twenty percent of the states population was African-American (Gastwirth 1997).
In Hall County, where the conviction took place, fourteen out of fourteen of the defendants who received the sentence enhancement were African-American while at the same time they accounted for only fifty to sixty percent of the arrests. The court’s opinion was that this was insufficient evidence to require the prosecution to provide explanation (Gastwirth 1997).
If this sentence enhancement were applied to only fifteen percent of the eligible cases, why were all of the defendants African-American? If African-Americans made up sixty percent of the defendants eligible for the enhanced sentence, why were all fourteen black? The probability of this result occurring by chance is .0008, or less than one in one-thousand. Blacks must have made up over seventy-seven percent of those eligible for the enhancement to avoid statistical significance when using a standard alpha of .05 (two-sided). Considering that blacks comprised only ten percent of the population of Hall County, this discrepancy is noteworthy because of the arrested population of African-Americans sixty three percent were drug users, thirty five percent were drug sellers; while the arrested white population consisted of seventy three percent drug users and twenty six percent drug sellers. Yet not one single white defendant received the enhanced sentence. In fact, blacks nearly always have a higher probability of receiving a prison sentence than whites, and in this case that probability was a thirteen percent greater probability of receiving a prison sentence than their white counterpart (Gastwirth 1997).
The second case that he reviewed was the case of U.S. vs. Armstrong. In this case at issue was the fact that of all twenty four cases that had been handed over for federal prosecution, why had all of the cases involved black defendants? The defense cited the fact that blacks and whites comprised equal numbers in the local treatment center. In that jurisdiction eighty seven percent of the cocaine convictions were against black defendants. They argued that this was selective prosecution of blacks, and cited the federal statistics which showed that for the previous of the three-thousand and five-hundred federal defendants, all but eleven were black. The eleven defendants who were not black were also minority members, and not one white person had been convicted under federal cocaine laws in the preceding three years (Gastwirth 1997)!
The defense further argued that in order for this to have not been selective prosecution of black defendants then the outcome of zero whites prosecuted under these laws would require that they comprise less than two tenths of one percent of the defendants. They further proposed that a sample of three hundred random cases be drawn and if whites comprised only less than twenty five percent of the eligible cases than they would concede that there was no bias. The court refused and stated only that this would cause an undue hardship on the government. Furthermore the court opinion stated that the defense had failed to show different treatment of similar persons and that they had failed to identify non-blacks who where not prosecuted (Gastwirth 1997).
Critique of this work includes John Hagan, who maintains that correlation is not to be confused with causation. In 1981, Gary Kleck stated that in the years 1929-1966 the rate of execution outside of the south [eight particular southern states] was 9.7/100,000 blacks, and 10.4/100,000 whites. This would indicate that outside the south white execution risk is higher. Kleck states that this is due to black on black crime not being taken seriously, and the existence of white paternalism. I personally feel strongly that at either 9.7, or 10.4, these are still entirely unacceptable rates of execution for the state to maintain [just think about Kirk Bloodsworth!] (Kleck, 1985).
Are the police discriminating in their arrest decisions that account for eighty percent of the disparity? The police are involved in three thousand and six hundred shootings per year. These shootings leaves six-hundred dead and another twelve-hundred wounded. Among the population shot by the police seventy percent are black, twenty percent are white, and ten percent are Hispanic. Does this indicate perhaps that the police are racially prejudiced (Morris 1988)?
Douglas Smith, Christy Visher, and Laura Davidson researched the influence of race on police arrest decisions. The research was conducted in 1983 in St. Louis, MO, and Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL. The data was gathered by trained civilian observers who did ride-alongs with patrol officers. Their observations included 611 encounters involving police interaction with a suspected offender. They found that race of a suspect was not as much of a determinate of arrest as was lower socio-economic status. It is their belief that prior correlations that have been found in prior studies between race and arrest may in fact be explained by the high concentration of blacks in low status communities. Evidence of police racism was however evidenced in police officer’s indifferent response to crimes in which the victim was black (Smith, Visher, Davidson; 1984).
Ronald Weitzer researched the perceptions of residents in three communities in Washington, D.C. to investigate whether or not the residents believe the police are racially biased. The data for his analysis was collected as part of a study of police-citizen relations in Washington, D.C. by conducting interviews in the years 1996-1997. The respondents were 169 residents from two African American neighborhoods and one white neighborhood. This research found that 7 out of 10 members of the white community felt that being black makes a difference in police arrest decision. The members of the black middle-class communities that were studied showed that 65% and 82% of the community members felt that being black made a difference in police arrest decision. The difference being a negative result in that the police officer makes an arrest decision based on racial / extra-legal factors. Weitzer compared this study to one conducted in 1966 which showed 2/3 of the white community had felt that the police were treating blacks fairly, while 54% of the black community had felt that they were. This would indicate that people today are more aware of the issue of police discrimination (Weitzer, 2000).
Weitzer did additional research into the issue of the public perception of police discrimination with Steven Tuch. They conducted a national survey in 2002. The survey was completed by 1,792 white, African American, and Hispanic residents of major U.S. urban areas with populations of at least 100,000 residents. The sample was representative of adults who lived in households with a telephone in urban or suburban areas that met the population-size requirement. They tested the hypothesis that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to believe that racially bias exists in policing within their city. They separated their sample based on race and found that 75% of black respondents, and 54% of Hispanic respondents believe that the police are treating blacks and Hispanics worse than they treat whites. However, the white respondents disagreed. The majority of white respondents (75%-77%) believed that the police in their city treated whites and minority groups "equally" (Weitzer, Tuch; 2005).
Stephen Rice and Alex Piquero conducted a similar study in New York City. The data was gathered by the New York City Police Department by polling 721 New York City residents between January 21st and January 24th, 2001. They’re analysis of the data found that blacks were three times more likely than non-blacks to perceive that racially biased policing was widespread, unjustified, and personally experienced. They found this to be consistent independent of income, education level, and regardless of the respondent’s attitudinal measures about police effectiveness (Rice, Piquero; 2005).
Brian Withrow examined whether race or ethnicity correlated to differential patterns of law enforcement by the Wichita, Kansas Police Department. His analysis compared the rates at which people were stopped, searched, or arrested by the Wichita Police Department for the period of January 15, 2001, and July 15, 2001 (N = 37,454). He found “that black citizens are stopped, searched, and arrested by the Wichita PD at disproportionately higher levels than non-black citizens”. These results still held statistical significance even when some evidence of reactivity was indicated by a significant decrease in the number of tickets issued by the department (Withrow, 2004).
Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Marcinda Mason, and Matthew Zingraff researched the phenomenon of D.W.B. [Driving While Black]. They used data from the 1996 General Social Survey to show that 10% of white respondents reported that “most minorities have less in-born ability to learn” (compared to 26% in 1972) [existence of overt racism]. 33% of whites disapprove of marriage between a minority and a white (down from 73% in 1972), and that 4% of whites still support school segregation (down from 37% in 1964). This existence of overt racism has been institutionalized into policy that permit racial profiling, which is an inherently discriminatory policy (such as the drug courier profile implemented in the 1970’s which began in Detroit, later spread to the airports of more than 20 cities, and finally resulted in the training of over 27,000 officers in 48 states who have been instructed to utilize the racially based drug courier profile when deciding who to stop, search, and arrest). They consider officers who either are personally bigoted towards minority members, or who follow racially biased police policy as the “bad apples” that allow the continuance of racial discrimination in policing (Tomaskovic-Devey, Mason, and Zingraff; 2004).
David Barlow and Melissa Hickman Barlow have taken this research one step further. They conducted their research by surveying a sample population of black officers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin regarding their experiences with racial profiling (N=167). They found that 2/3 of the black officers reported having been racially profiled at some point, while 43% had experienced profiling within the past 5 years, and 25% had experienced profiling within the past year. These results would indicate that not only is racial profiling ineffective in that it reveals too many false positives to justify it’s use, but also that it is indeed very widespread in its use as evidenced by the fact that 1 in 4 black police officers had reported being racially stereotyped just within the past year (Barlow, Barlow; 2002).
Racism & Inequality are fixtures of the modern era. Young black males are incarcerated in numbers clearly disproportionate to their numbers in the population. They are the clearest victims in the war on drugs. They are reduced essentially to prisoners of war. Incarcerating these young men further deteriorates their neighborhoods, thereby encouraging additional crime patterns by placing additional stress on already critically crime prone urban environment. Are we really going to believe this is done for deterrence purposes (McCoy, 1997)?
In the year 2002, African-Americans comprised thirteen percent of the United States population, but forty-six percent of the prison population. They are seven times more likely to be incarcerated, and make up forty-three percent of death row convicts awaiting execution. The Supreme Court has ruled that aggregate level data cannot be used to prove the existence of racial discrimination. Instead we must examine the in/out stage and examine who the decision is made to arrest and prosecute (Free 2002).
Failure to make bail increases the probability of a defendant receiving a guilty verdict. African-Americans are three times more likely than whites to live in poverty. Fully twenty four percent of them do. Research that has been investigating the effects of making bail have found in racial bias in nine out of fourteen studies, while the remaining five studies contend that there is no difference (Free 2002)..
Since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated eighty three percent of the cases where the death penalty was sought involved a white victim, while only half of the murder victims where white. When the offender is black, and the victim is white, there is an increased likelihood that charges will be brought. In 1972 the case of Furman v. Georgia found that the death penalty was arbitrarily used and therefore unconstitutional. However, the penalty was not simply being used arbitrarily; it is used with extreme bias. In the year 1996 there were eleven-thousand, four-hundred and thirty murders. This resulted in two-hundred and ninety-five death sentences, of which forty-six percent of the defendants were black (Free 2002)..
The Charging and Sentencing study (N = 1,066) found that blacks are more likely to have prosecution seek the death penalty. They are in fact ten times more likely to seek the death of a black defendant. This is due primarily to the victim-offender relationship. When the victim is white the prosecution is more likely to seek the death penalty. This is extremely pronounced when the offender is black and the victim is white. However the death penalty is sought least in cases involving a white offender and a black victim. In that case, there is the least likelihood that the prosecution will seek the death penalty. A review of sixty-eight empirical studies suggests that racial bias exists most prominently in the bail decision and with the death penalty (Free 2002)..

Ronald Weitzer holds that the evidence of discrimination can best be explained by the “threat hypothesis”. This hypothesis states that the size of a minority population size is related to the dominant group’s perception of the threat posed by the minority group, and the dominant group’s efforts to control that perceived threat. In other words, the amount of oppression that a subordinated group is subjected to is directly related to the danger that the dominant group believes the minority group poses to them. This would help to explain higher arrest and imprisonment rates among minority offenders who are viewed as being a greater threat to the social order than an offender who is a member of the dominant group.
Critical Race Theory offers a perspective of how our “race-neutral” educational institutions provide the foundation for racism. This theory puts forth the notion that racist behavior is a societal norm in the United States that is taught through the social interactions that occur in our schools, where the social construct of race is modeled for students by showing historical accounts of the differences between “us”, and “them”.
Weitzer and Tush cite the group-position theory as the explanation for any detected evidence of discriminatory practices. This theory, put forth by Herbert Blumer, states that dominant groups will react to the threat of potential loss of their standing in relation to subordinate groups. The dominant group is aware of their higher ascribed status, and they react to any threat to the higher status position. They do what they can to maintain their higher position relative to the subordinate group, even when this means oppressing other group members to ensure the dominant group members remain in higher positions of power relative to others in the group.
I believe that the best explanation that exists for the evidence of police discrimination is the social disorganization theory. This theory maintains that crime is caused by social factors. These social factors are symbolic of social structures that are unstable over time. When these social structures are undergoing periods of instability the society is disorganized and police authority [as well as other forms of social control] attempt to exert pressure upon the social structures to stabilize and return to a state of social order. The problem with this is that when organized as an orderly society it is oppressive to members of minority groups, and those living in poverty. Thus the maintenance of the social order is detrimental in that it is racist and oppressive to some members while benefiting others who hold higher group-position status.
Research Question
My question is whether the race of an offender in MICHIGAN influenced the length of the sentence that they received for the conviction of a crime. If a black male and a white male are both convicted of the same criminal conduct in the state of MICHIGAN, who will receive the longer sentence?


It is widely speculated that the criminal justice system is biased against poor, young, urban, black, males. This is the stereotypical image of the typical criminal portrayed in the mass media. To detect any unfair bias that may exist within the criminal justice system, I propose to compare the incarceration lengths of “white” vs. “non-white” offenders who committed similar crimes.

Description of variables

Independent Variable: “Race” is a nominal variable with two categories, for the intent of my illustration: Non-white and White.
Dependent Variable: “Length of Sentence” is a ratio measure of time served in incarceration (measured as time between sentence date and discharge date).


Offenders who are racially classified as “Non-white” are more likely to have received a longer sentence length than an offender racially classified as “White”.

Research Method

Two websites, used in conjunction, will provide the data for my research. The first website provides a list of criminal offenders who were all convicted of similar crimes. The Michigan Sex Offender Registry ( provides just such a source of information. Providing the Registry with a zip code will generate a list of all the registered sex offenders who reside in that area. The entries also indicate the level of criminal sexual conduct as classified on a scale of first degree through fourth degree. Similarity of crime can then be limited to offenders who have been convicted of criminal sexual conduct comparable by degree of offense.
The second website I will use to gather the dependent variable, “length of sentence”. This information is available to the public through the Michigan Offender Tracking Information System (O.T.I.S.) website at: The name of the offender can be looked up on this website revealing the dates on which they were sentenced and discharged.
I will record my observations on the “Data Coding Form” page. I will record the race of the offender, the length of their sentence, and the degree of criminal sexual conduct for which the offender was convicted.
In order to limit the amount of preliminary data that will be recorded I will only use one zip code to generate this list of offenders. The zip code that I have chosen is 48506, an urban (urban: 33,451; rural: 53) area of Flint, Michigan with a population of 33,504 (29,573 white; 1,816 black). The median income of this area is approximately $33,163. The median age of its residents is 32.8. Except for one, all subjects who are registered sex offenders in this zip code are male.
If the preliminary data results indicate discrepancy among criminal sentencing that may potentially be accounted for by racial bias, additional research may be conducted, up to and including, a random sampling of Michigan zip codes from 48001 to 49971. The data gathered from the random sampling of data need not be exhaustive, but should adequately reflect the population of 1970 zip codes from which data could be gathered. A random sample of 322 zip codes from this population would adequately represent this population to within 95% confidence (α = .05). Given my sampling of one zip code (48506) took approximately 5 hours, the gathering of this data may be projected to take somewhere around 1610 hours given my methodology. In lieu of this projection, I instead composed this comprehensive literature review of the materials related to this research. It is my hope that a critical review of the relevant literature will not only support my preliminary findings, but also strengthen the case for proceeding with the proposed research in its entirety.

Ethical Issues

All of the data that I will utilize is public record. The offenders on the registry are legally required to provide this information to the general public. In spite of the common knowledge and public nature of the information, I will not publicize information regarding names and addresses of subjects. Though they will not be anonymous to me (as I will access their records using their name), and are easily accessible to any who repeat my methodology, I will exercise a policy of confidentiality regarding offender’s identities.
During the preliminary data collection that I undertook, the preceding ethical dilemma presented itself. Two of the subjects that I recorded are currently wanted for violation of probation or parole. These two subjects are identified criminal sexual offenders and have outstanding warrants for their arrest. The urge to contact the local authorities is heightened as the area where these offenders reside (48506) is the same neighborhood that I personally live in. If I can find these individuals, why can’t the police?

Data Coding Form

Start Time: ___5:00p.m.__ End Time: __10:00p.m._
Race sentence/max % Degree Race sentence/max % Degree
W 49/60 82 1 W 140/180 78 1
W 140/180 78 1 W 157/180 87 1
W 184/240 77 1 W 207/240 86 1
W 198/360 55 1 W 280/480 58 1
W 36/36 100 2 W 48/48 100 2
W 63/180 35 2 W 143/180 79 2*
W 36/36 100 2 W 133/180 74 2
W 58/60 97 2 W 112/180 62 2
W 138/180 77 2 W 151/180 84 2
W 36/36 100 2 W 36/36 100 2
W 78/180 43 2 W 154/180 86 2
W 59/60 98 2 W 59/60 98 2
W 44/60 73 2 W 107/270 40 2
W 47/60 78 2 W 24/24 100 2
W 36/48 75 2 W 24/24 100 3
W 96/180 53 3 W 116/180 64 3
W 145/180 81 3(x6) W 149/180 83 3
W 107/180 59 3 W 60/60 100 3
W 60/60 100 3 W 116/180 64 3
W 160/180 89 3 W 73/27 270 4
W 13/24 54 4 W 31/60 52 4
W 23/27 85 4 W 59/60 98 4
W 31/31 100 4 W 36/24 150 4
W 0/24 0 4* W 27/36 75 4
W 59/60 98 4 W 11/24 46 4
W 36/36 100 4 W 49/120 41 CSC
W 36/36 100 CSC W 24/24 100 IND
B 170/288 59 1 B 52/180 29 2
B 60/60 100 2 B 48/48 100 4
B 13/48 27 4 B 60/60 100 CSC
H 65/180 36 3 H 20/24 83 4
H 24/24 100 4 N 155/180 86 2
O 24/24 100 CP
X1 mean: 83 months 83% of maximum sentence
X2 mean: 63 months 75% of maximum sentence
*These two subjects are currently wanted for violation of probation/parole.

Data Collection
I was able to locate the sentencing information regarding 65 of the 98 registered sex offenders in the 48506 zip code. Cross-referencing the data was not difficult, but somewhat time-consuming.


Figure 1-1 illustrates the preliminary findings of this research. Approximately 15% of the registered offenders were "non-white", while approximately 11% of the 48506 population was "non-white". In addition, 5/11 (46%) of the "non-white" sample served their maximum sentence, while only 15/54 (28%) of the "white" sample did.
Figure 1-1: Did “Non-White” offenders receive longer sentences for CSC in 48506?
White non-white Total
(N=54) (N=11) (N=65)
that served maximum 28% 46% 31%
sentence 83 63 80
mean percentage 83% 75% 81%
of sentence served


The findings in Figure 1-1 do not support the hypothesis that "non-white" offenders receive longer sentences. In fact, these results support the opposite conclusion; that being "non-white" may actually result in a shorter sentence (among registered criminal sexual conduct offenders in the 48506 zip code).
However, the “non-white” sample was nearly twice as likely to have served their maximum sentence! (28% vs. 46%)
A sign test performed on the non-white sample rules out the possibility that they received disparate sentences merely by chance. With a calculated sample mean of 80-month sentence length the sign test yields 2 positive results, 9 negative. This leaves only a 2.69% possibility that the sample of non-white offenders was randomly drawn from a population with a mean sentence length of 80 months or greater. So there is definitely some differential sentencing going on between “white” and “non-white” offenders.


It has been found that while overt racism is wholly on the decline; its influence is still perpetuated by institutionalized policy that ensures the practice of racial discrimination will not disappear in the immediate future. This is an important topic to address because the execution of the death penalty should be prohibited where it is being carried out in states that have evidence of racial discrimination as exhibited in disproportionate rates of arrest, charges, and convictions of death-eligible crimes. When racism is being exercised through methods that result in the death of a minority person being executed by the state, we should all be concerned!
How many states currently exercise the death penalty in a manner that is racially biased? What states have been analyzed to show court admissible proof of the evidence required to show violations of racial disparity? Has Michigan? Although we don’t implement the death penalty here in our state, it would still be interesting to learn if the population of Michigan residents exhibits these symptoms of racial inequality. How many states have passed legislation that prohibits the use of the death penalty based on the laws that prohibit its racially motivated use, as well as studies that have shown its use as such?
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posted by pre-blawger at 7/06/2006 06:39:00 PM | 0 comments

June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

Legalizing Moves

Writing Assignment #2 – Law and personhood
Chpt. 4 – How do community organizations and advocacy groups aid the process of legalization? What are some of the considerations in diagnosing specific cases and what are some of the key procedures in preparing a case? What do we learn about the relationship between law and justice from these examples?
The author tentatively defines “legal workers” as something more than a notary public who’s forging documents, yet something less than a full fledged attorney practicing law. These legal workers are the persons who help the immigrant file paperwork and form the basis of a legal presence in the United States. They work closely with the community organizations and advocacy groups to help negotiate the differences between being an illegal, unauthorized immigrant; and a legal, political asylum seeker.
The law is a formalized, codified version of cultural knowledge. Therefore law, like all cultural knowledge, is shared, arbitrary, and agreed upon. Well, almost, it’s not entirely agreed upon, in fact it’s something that is the site of much conflict and disagreement. The finalized laws that are recorded and implemented though are agreed upon as much as they are accepted as being the legitimate and enforceable laws of a place, time, and peoples. Coutin makes a good point that the law seems to be entirely arbitrary to the Salvadorian refugee [who’s legal when they’re a refugee, but illegal as an immigrant].
When diagnosing a case the legal worker looks for signs of obvious political oppression, something that would help build a strong case for the individual seeking political asylum. Importance is given to such details as about whether they were beaten, tortured, arrested, etc. Even if they were just unemployed or displaced due to civil war they may still be included in the class action suit which attempts to define all of the ABC class citizens as political refugees. The workers do not touch cases that revolve entirely around the topic of economic hardship. If the person fled to the United States for financial gain that is not grounds for granting political asylum, even if they faced grinding poverty in their homeland. When a “legal worker” dismisses a case simply because they cannot find grounds to file for political refugee status or to include them in the class action suit, this is in effect the final judgment of the courts. Case dismissed, you’re illegal!
Coutin really works the angle here that these Salvadorians are illegal people trying to obtain legal status. Once the immigrant has ten years of documented residency in the United States they may apply for naturalization status. The problem seems to be in that the ten years they are here they are illegal immigrants and can be subjected to detainment and deportation. Helping the illegal immigrant document their continued residence seems to be part and parcel of the work of the “legal worker”. Effectively the position is to provide legal assistance to a person who is defined by law as having an illegal status. Interestingly, the scope of legal assistance that they provide to the illegal immigrant could actually be interpreted to mean they are practicing law without the required license. It seems odd that one person could become de facto the judge, prosecutor, legal representative, etc. all at once without having even a law degree is interesting. I would almost be willing to bet that if really serious consideration were given to the matter, perhaps a class action lawsuit could be formed against the “legal workers” who are providing legal assistance to the illegal immigrants. For one, they are violating the nonexistence rights of the illegal immigrant by denying them due process rights when they dismiss a case without an actual legal hearing. For another they are illegally practicing law without the required license, and with peoples lives at stake no less. Finally, they are aiding and abetting known criminals as illegal immigration is a misdemeanor crime, and repeated offense is a felony.
Parallels are drawn between the treatment of the oppressed Salvadorian immigrant in their home country, and the treatment they receive in the United States at the hands of the INS. The department of Immigration and Naturalization Services approaches illegal immigrants as criminals who have broken the laws of the United States. The Salvadorian conflict was a violent civil war in which civilians often had good reason to fear being dragged from their homes in the middle of the night to be beaten and jailed. The INS welcomes these refugees to the United States with a similar policy of detainment, deportation, and heck sometimes they even throw in a beating for good measure. The fact that these immigrants are being received by the United States with the same treatment they received in their homeland that they fled for fear of political prosecution should be lost on nobody. Alas, they are treated as criminals and welcomed only as second class citizens at best.
The message of chapter four is clearly that there is a difference between law and social justice. If you are wondering what made me interested in the study of law, I will tell you that it actually came about sometime after I took Introductory Anthropology with Professor Jennifer Alvey. From the materials I found in her lectures, text book, and required reading (Standing in the Meatpacking Line: Iowa Beef Packing) I began to challenge my notions about society. The study of law might not be intuitively deduced from the desire to learn more about U.S. society and social structures, but I would argue that with my aspirations, and in the context of American culture, assuming the "role of authority" might in fact be the surest route to gain the influence need to bring about some level of social reform.
Phillips, Scott; Rodriguez, Nestor; Hagan, Jacqueline. “Brutality at the border? Use of
force in the arrest of immigrants in the United States”. International Journal of
the Sociology of Law, vol. 30, no. 4 (2002): 285-306.
Wilson, Mitria. “Rights Without Remedies And Judgments Without Effect: The
Relationship Between § 1252(f)(1) Of The Immigration And Nationality Act,
Class Actions, And Standing Under Article III Of The Constitution”.
Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, vol. 18, no. 4 (2004): 745-787.
Higgs, Erica. “Specialized High Schools for Immigrant Students: A Promising New
Idea”. Journal of Law & Education, vol. 34, no. 2 (2005): 331-340.
Sprengelmeyer, M.E. “Guest-worker talk gives rise to fraud”. Rocky Mountain News
April 17, 2006.
posted by pre-blawger at 6/30/2006 03:52:00 AM | 0 comments

April 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

2000 outskirts of Ankara [Urban Anthropologist]

2000 outskirts of Ankara [Urban Anthropologist]
outskirts – peripheral
one or two story garden houses
suburban, rural squatter settlements seasonal changes.
Apartment buildings / “Projects”
Political activity of the residents since 70’s –ish.
Census like demographic study centered on “embedded” neighborhood.
“Head of neighborhood” elected “Bigman” [5 year election term, 2nd term]
Kurdish key informant – muftar? Source of local political power.
Who are “the people”? Looked for other key informants.
social woman – [ice air?] rural migrant
2 religious sects – Sunni Muslim & secular Muslim [Aliveze, 70%, leftist/westernized?]
Who to ask questions? Understand about the two groups & their “feelings” [attitudes, beliefs] about each other.

Stigmatized for being “leftist”.
Sunni majority in country, but minority in this neighborhood.
Muftar: built local library in conjunction with Professor’s help.
country trip – salz [Turkish instrument]. Muftar wants ambulance / healthcare facilities.
local musician. contested identities over political figurehead [founder of Turkish nation] Sunni criticize.

Tea with the ladies – in village like, small community.
tea party – woman gather freely in rural “village”.
Picnic and tea party. We are “modern woman”, can not have to fear men.

1970’s settlement emerged.
Oliveze – Shiite Muslim / Turkish version of

Ottoman sultan dynasty v. Iran emperor [Oliveze are Muslim and lost to the emperor]
Fled to mountains to avoid ottoman influence. Isolate lives. 1920’s Turkish nation founded secular non-religion based state. Western hegemony. Oliveze return from exile. Emigrate to Europe, etc. internal migration. Rural migrants join cities. Capitalist v. Communism. Turkey joined capitalism post-WWII. Cold war period. Restructured, modernized, “industrial revolution”…displaced peasantry. Flood city housing market with poor rural migrants who built illegally on public lands. Squatter housing. “They don’t belong here”. 1973 oil crisis – hate the “other”…migrant human rights issues. Communist sympathizers. Pro-union [leftist] second generation => political conflict. Frontlines of the cold war. Ultra-[Sunni]-nationalist vs. leftist =>violent civil war conflict. Community formed out of survivor ability necessity. Illegal squatters can tie together despite their political interests due to common need.

Develop a city plan!

College students gave assistance [leftist].

*LIBERATED TERRITORY*: the state is excluded.
“Progressive territory”: oppressed the Sunni conservatives
Political instability spilling over into street violence.

Politically active. Complete solidarity.
Organized against a nearby garbage dump. Embraced leftist ideology.
Split neighborhood, 1980 political takeover. Dissent suppressed.

Muftar promotes “political action” / progressive “modernization”.
Environmental day: march to the garbage dump. June 2005.
Election victory celebration, civil disobedience against the garbage dump, although poor turnout.

300+ condemned houses because of risk of explosion from garbage dump. Erected barricades against the municipality’s bulldozers. Human right’s issue – can’t demolish a person’s shelter [basic human necessity]. Homes are still there, but still might explode.
Afraid of being politically affiliated
Concern about poverty.
Village associations avoid conflicts of politics. Leaders of village associations – leftists against village associations => found a village association.
“Associations” divide people – we should have a political organization – lack of trust ruins solidarity.
Identity politics, no longer class structured. Interest in their village, not nationalist [still semi-leftist].
Failed military coup scared off political activity. Village orientation identity spread. Young woman can be leaders in the village. In fact, one heads a village association. She limits where men can play cards [Is that all of her influence?].

State sponsored – commoditized / commercialized apartmentalization.
Oliveze/Sunni conflict: mosques? Suppress rebellion by encouraging Islam to score leftists.
Tentative, small mosque. Sunni traditional women. Oppressed by leftist political organization. Oliveze to Sunni: “Don’t cover, go out in public.” Both groups merge in social situations among women. Bread baking, weddings, etc. –neoliberalism policy-
Squatter’s rights = human rights movements.
High rise “urban transformation project”. Capitalist profit motive. Leftist squatter résistance. Mayor came to event. All people came together. Court yard of local school. Imam came even. Displaced, or profit? What’s up? Mayor: token appearance. Demolished? Local grocer – open air market, replaced by commercial grocery chain. Istanbul – westernized. Real estate speculation – suppressed rural migrants.

Muftar may be politically supported, but represents a village community. Motorcades – woman village association leader is rare, but sign of “progressive” nature of the community [modern]. European Union –ish –esque.
Supports Oliveze. Globalization
Urbanized – modern city life contrasted to rural “village” community. Malls & franchise westernized.

What about Sarah?
Modern, but covered [i.e. non-westernized / not commoditized!] – What about Sarah?
posted by pre-blawger at 4/04/2006 03:00:00 AM | 0 comments