Police Abuse

Radley Balko on George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the Libertarian Case for Criminal Justice Reform

How to reduce police killings and enact lasting change.

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George Floyd's death at the hands of the Minneapolis police has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality. A new consensus is forming around the urgent need for criminal justice reform.

Six years ago, after the police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, just 43 percent of Americans believed that such incidents indicated a systemic problem. Now, though police killings have remained level since 2014, 69 percent of Americans agree that "the killing of Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement."

To better understand this shift and to get a sense of what changes would be most effective, Nick Gillespie sat down with Washington Post opinion writer Radley Balko, a former Reason reporter who covers police abuse, the drug war, and criminal justice reform. His Reason coverage of Cory Maye, a black man in Mississippi put on death row for killing a police officer during a no-knock raid, helped bring about Maye's acquittal, and his books Rise of The Warrior Cop and The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist document widespread problems with law enforcement, expert testimony, and media coverage of crime.

NEXT: Report: Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons Spiked by 500 Percent When Coronavirus Hit

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  1. Wait, what?
    Sitting down with a Washington Post employee is going to help explain how public perception has changed significantly with no actual change in the underlying actions?
    Why not just read what has been published?

    1. The propaganda campaign is super effective. Law enforcement is criminalized and criminal acts are excused and apologized for by the liberal establishment.

      1. “Tulpa Disciple
        June.15.2020 at 4:33 pm
        It is the kind of thing niggers like that do”

        Yes, you are Tulpa Disciple/TULPA FOLLOWER and you said that.

        Got ya.

        1. Stop this forum pogrom. You have the wrong poster!

          1. Cool you denounce yourself!

            “Tulpa Disciple
            June.15.2020 at 4:33 pm
            It is the kind of thing niggers like that do”

            Yes, you are Tulpa Disciple/TULPA FOLLOWER and you said that.

            Got ya!

            Seriously, N-bombs and lying when you get caught? God damn youre gross.

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          2. You really do have the wrong dude, Tulpa.

    2. Balko was the best writer at Reason, ever. Not just some guy from the Washington Post.

      1. Just don’t follow him on Twitter until Trump is gone.

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  2. First the video of an interview, then the podcast of the same interview (I am not about to listen to both to see if they are the same!), next … we can hope for the transcript.

    I can read a lot faster than I can listen, plus I can skim, backup and reread, and search.

    1. It is all about you.

      1. Why sock if you’re just gonna white knight Reason like you always do?

  3. Saint Floyd will be remembered by the black community for centuries as a man who did something important.

    1. “Tulpa Disciple
      June.15.2020 at 4:33 pm
      It is the kind of thing niggers like that do”

      Yes, you are Tulpa Disciple/TULPA FOLLOWER and you said that.

      Got ya.

  4. Here’s the libertarian case for criminal justice reform, apply the NAP to government by prohibiting it from initiating force. I just saved you an hour of your life. You’re welcome.

    1. Sure. One question…

      Who is going to do the prohibiting?

      1. I suggest a 28th amendment, “Government shall not initiate force.” That way the government does the prohibiting.

        1. You’re a genius?

    2. It seems to me that under a libertarian analysis, both Brooks and Floyd “initiated force” to some degree; the debate is merely about what the proper response is.

      1. Floyd allegedly committed a fraud but he didn’t resist being handcuffed at which point it became the cops’ responsibility to ensure his safety. Brooks definitely initiated force but at the moment the first shot was fired, just from what the video shows, it wasn’t reasonable for Rolfe to fear death or great bodily harm. The taser missed. The guy was running away. There was another cop. He had some cover from the car. In his head he probably thought he was doing the right thing but it wasn’t.

  5. Thanks for this Nick. Always thought highly of Balko when he was here. He comes across more reasoned here than on his twitter feed.

    It pretty much reinforces a lot of what I already thought. Traffic stops act as a low level irritant, but they seem more frightening when you realize that encounters with police often go sideways.

    The point about heavily armed police doing traffic stops is well taken. It probably wouldn’t fly, but having cops leave their gun in the car to issue a speeding ticket might stop some of the nonsense. Cops might be less inclined to pull people over.

    Politicians need to shoulder their share of the blame too. The War on Drugs and all its children have created a society where the police can stop you “just because”. It’s no wonder people are fed up with it.

    If Trump was smart, he’d co-opt the issue. Run ads with nothing but old CSPAN clips of Joe Biden bragging about how many death penalty offenses he added. If Nixon wen to China, Trump could end the War on Drugs. It would make the internet melt down.

    1. Unfortunately Trump sees advertising himself as the law & order candidate as his best political option right as the Dems drift off into the radical left. I don’t think Trump gives a shit about the drug war. Yeah he’s done some stupid shit at the urging of his wife and all the deep state professionals he’s surrounded by but it doesn’t come close to the raging erection Biden got imagining locking up 15 year olds for smoking crack. But he obviously sees himself as Nixon in ’72 winning 49 states when the silent majority are awakened. Not expecting him to end the WOD anytime soon and definitely not before November.

      1. Exactly. Trump is not perceptive enough to see this chance to exploit the Donkeys’ obvious failures, and he will ignore good advice. He only knows how to fight one way.

    2. A lot of car stops are about drugs. Ending drug prohibition would solve 95% of the problem with the black community and police.

    3. I know I used to be a notorious Trump supporter here, but after some careful observation I’ve come to the conclusion he ain’t smart.

      1. Disagree. He is smart in a narrow way, and with a 1970’s view of the world. He is not adaptable to new situations.

    4. Traffic stops act as a low level irritant, but they seem more frightening when you realize that encounters with police often go sideways.

      Is this assertion even accurate? Out of all the encounters with police that take place every day, how many of them, give or take, actually result in things going pear-shaped?

      The point about heavily armed police doing traffic stops is well taken.

      In what universe is a standard 9mm being “heavily armed”? You sound like the liberal women who go on about “military-style assault rifles.” Cops using MRAPs and SWAT for rolling up on drug busts is being “heavily armed”; a cop having a sidearm while he issues you a ticket for speeding isn’t even comparable.

    5. It pretty much reinforces a lot of what I already thought. Traffic stops act as a low level irritant, but they seem more frightening when you realize that encounters with police often go sideways.

      That must be in the same sense of “often” that “people get often killed by lightning”!

      The War on Drugs and all its children have created a society where the police can stop you “just because”. It’s no wonder people are fed up with it.

      As opposed to what? The free libertarian 50’s? Or the war time society of the 40’s? Are you insane?

  6. How come you couldnt throw in Tony Timpa?

    1. BLACK Lives Matter

    2. Because he wasn’t aware of your particular hobby horse.

      1. What’s the point of socking if you’re always the guy that white knights Reason whenever they’re questioned?

        1. What’s the point of coming here every day to bitch about how much you don’t like it here?

          1. I mean how dare someone go to a site outside of his bible to advocate for actual libertarian principles a d actual equality of people. Glad you’re here to sock and shame.

            1. Glad you are here to throw regular tantrums, defend Donald Trump’s every idiotic move, shill for conservatism, and engage in personal attacks every day.

              1. You really lack self awareness.

          2. Unlike you, in between bitching about how a publication I used to deeply respect has changed, and remind people like you that you’re an asshole, I also occasionally have interesting conversations with many other commentators. And some times just joke around. Sorry that you’re jokes aren’t ever funny so you’re never a part of that.

        2. Why are you “white knighting” JesseAz?

          1. I thought it was a legitimate question. If anything, I was white knighting Tony Timpa. You know, another guy murdered horrifically by the cops that most people don’t give a shot about because of a narrative, and probably 95%+ of people have never even heard of.

            And in fact, my question to you was a legitimate one. Why bother socking if you’re just saying what you normally do?

  7. How to reduce police killings and enact lasting change.

    The number of killings by police that aren’t self-defense are very small; the Floyd case is unusual, and black men are underrepresented among those. Where exactly is the problem?

  8. When it happens nothing is done. No one is above the law.

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