MiddleMen

Middlemen‘ examines the impact of the criminal justice system and discusses if modern policing systems like Compstat, are driving down crime or justifying discrimination in communities of color. Weaving together stories of former officers and bereaved families the film pushes the narrative against a challenging and unbalanced criminal justice system.

Overview: The combination of increased enforcement and police performance measures have created more profound tension and mistrust between marginalized populations and law enforcement despite America’s racial history. Additionally, police officers have had reservations about such systems, particularly Compstat which was adopted in 1994 under the Bratton, Giuliani regime.

The trade-off for ‘better policing’ for a safer New York, came with an inherently unfair human cost that we see today justifiably targets marginalized communities. Present day, over 59[1] percent of police departments across the country have adopted Compstat while moving away from Community Policing where officers walked the beat and got to know the community.

The combination of laws and policies such as the War on Drugs and Truth in Sentencing which backed by federal grants consecutively led to an already growing prison population and now today over 2.3[2] million people are incarcerated in at any given point in the United States.

New York local court systems moved toward a record-keeping assembly system to manage the influx of misdemeanor offenses compiled mainly from stop and frisk and Broken Windows. A study by Issa Kohler-Hausmann reveals this as Managerial Justice which is “concerned with managing people through engagement with the criminal justice system over time.” [3] Lastly, we review the impact of police violence that stems from increased enforcement and targeting in communities of color by talking with surviving family members of victims who lost their lives to a police officer. Their experience provides a different perspective of how the criminal justice deals with charges that pend against them for discrimination and violent acts. In 2017 over 1,100 people were killed by law enforcement. Of those 25 percent were African American despite making up only 13 percent of the population and most prone to enforcement, incarceration, and stigmatization.

 

Sources:

[1] Neusteter, Rebecca. Vera Institute of Justice “Compstat 2.0”  https://www.vera.org/projects/compstat-2-0

[2] Wagner, Peter and Rabuy, Bernadette. Prison Police Initiative, “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html

[3] Kohler-Hausmann. Issa, Stanford Law Review Volume 66, Issue 3. Pg 611 https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/print/article/managerial-justice-and-mass-misdemeanors/ 2014 March