Pam’s Night in Jail

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Pamela Taylor-Berry was falsely arrested in August 2013 for a traffic ticket she had already paid. The officers came into her home while she and her husband were doing weekend chores, handcuffed her, and held her at the police station for seven hours. Her husband paid bale, and she later had to appear in court — all for a ticket she’d already paid.

Pamela’s experience isn’t unique in Minneapolis. In late 2014, the ACLU obtained arrest data from the Minneapolis Police Department for low-level offenses that occurred from January 1, 2012, to September 30, 2014. The data includes information about 96,975 arrests.

The numbers show a startling disparity in the way police enforce low-level offenses, particularly in the neighborhoods within North Minneapolis, South Minneapolis, and the city center where more low-income and minority communities live. Black people in the city are 8.7 times more likely than white people to be arrested for low-level offenses, like trespassing, disorderly conduct, consuming in public, and lurking. Native Americans have it no better. They are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than white people.

The Minneapolis data adds to a growing body of ACLU data analysis that demonstrates law enforcement across the nation are over and inequitably policing communities of color and that police practices are in need of sweeping reform. Reports from New York, Chicago (both this year and last), Newark, Philadelphia, Boston, metropolitan Detroit, and Nebraska all describe police departments that reserve their most aggressive enforcement for people of color.

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