Report says law enforcement unfairly targeting some people

January 30, 2013 4:16:56 AM PST
A group in Harris County says the way law enforcement is working to prevent crime is unfair.

Several people voiced their concerns Tuesday evening during a town hall meeting about this issue that just ended in southeast Houston.

The report by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition focuses on two crime enforcement practices -- drug prosecution and African Americans, and immigration enforcement and Hispanics.

"We are desensitized to imprisonment," one attendee said.

Comments were made.

"I think the community -- black, brown and white -- needs to put a lot of pressure on the district attorney," another meeting attendee said.

Questions were asked and answered about key points in the report, saying, "Despite the data showing similar rates of use and abuse, blacks and whites in Harris County are not evenly represented among those arrested and sentenced to prison or state jail for drug possession."

"We all know that better schools and richer employment opportunities are always better crime fighters than increased law enforcement," UTMB Institute for Medical Humanities' Dr. Jason Glenn said.

The report says, "By using local jail resources for immigration enforcement, Harris County's criminal justice system targets Hispanics and harms Hispanic communities."

"Trying to focus our local resources on very dangerous and serious crimes that folks are experiencing rather than the low-level petty crimes," said Jannell Robles, a member of the coalition.

And the study shows "black motorists are four times more likely than white motorists to be subjected to a vehicle search without probable cause."

The report claims these practices ultimately make Harris County less safe when a community feels targeted by unfair treatment it leads to a lack of trust with law enforcement which can cause apprehension among witnesses who have information.

"Something is really happening so we've got to come together so we can address this issues together," said Rev. James Nash with the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

This reported is directed toward several law enforcement agencies.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia couldn't attend Tuesday night's meeting because he's in Washington, but the sheriff's office has looked at the report and says under his leadership, the department has grown much more inclusive, much more willing to listen to all sectors of the county but goes on to say at the same time the sheriff's number one job is maintaining public safety through the enforcement of all Texas laws.


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