Race, Psychological Sickness and Police Reform in a Liberal Michigan City

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In mid-April, Cynthia was amongst a small variety of group members invited by Clayton to hitch one of many Managing Psychological Well being Disaster coaching periods for regulation enforcement officers supplied by means of the sheriff’s workplace. There have been 31 registered contributors representing 20 Michigan communities. She needed to listen to what misperceptions officers held about psychological sickness, and extra importantly, how these misperceptions had been being addressed and corrected.

Because the coaching performed on her laptop computer on one aspect of the desk in her house workplace, she was anxiously watching her iPad on the opposite aspect of the desk. On that display, Anthony sat shifting uneasily in a Zoom sq., showing for a digital bond listening to associated to his present drug fees.

Anthony’s lawyer was arguing for what he referred to as a “humanistic” strategy, targeted on in-patient psychological well being care somewhat than jail. The lawyer had letters from a substance use and psychological well being therapy heart within the space that had labored with Anthony earlier than and that had discovered a facility with a mattress for him.

Decide Archie C. Brown, was having none of it.

“Mr. Hamilton has been in entrance of me for the final 11 years for quite a few points, as properly. So let’s not overlook that,” mentioned Brown, who was appointed to the 22nd Circuit Courtroom by Republican Gov. John Engler in 1999, in the course of the tough-on-crime Invoice Clinton years, and who has been elected 4 instances since then. “Frankly, what I see from Mr. Hamilton is anyone who’s going to do what he rattling properly pleases. To hell with what the court docket goes to do.”

The decide denied bond.

“I’m simply sitting there considering, ‘How can this decide work for a similar county as these folks speaking about growing consciousness and sensitivity round psychological sickness?’” Cynthia mentioned, elevating her fingers to her face in exasperation.

Nobody is aware of whether or not a distinct type of dispatch system that night time in 2009 would have stored Anthony out of the cross-hairs of the felony justice system. What might need occurred if the responding officer had acknowledged the indicators of Anthony’s psychological well being points and shared that with the 911 operator? What if the 911 operator had alerted a 24-hour disaster intervention crew that might have dispatched a educated counselor to assist Anthony on the police station or earlier than he ever bought there? What if the officer had merely tried to find Anthony’s mother and father as a substitute of reserving him? If he had handled Anthony as extra in want of safety than the trash cans?

There are apparent deficiencies in the way in which folks with psychological sickness are handled within the felony justice system, and people deficiencies may be addressed by the reforms being applied by Clayton and others. However Cynthia is aware of that underlying the systemic failures are pervasive and harmful attitudes that work towards the perfect intentions of the reformers. The type of attitudes that see a Black man in a hooded sweatshirt and tense up. That sort that assume a child like Anthony doesn’t reside in a home with vaulted ceilings and huge image home windows on a tucked away cul-de-sac. The type that don’t think about that he has mother and father who would drop every part at a second’s discover to choose him up, irrespective of the place, it doesn’t matter what time. The type that don’t think about that public security contains Anthony’s security, too.

“It’s not politically right to be racist in Ann Arbor. So I suppose I lived most of my life with rose-colored glasses,” says Cynthia. “I really feel damage daily that the town that I used to be born and raised in, that my son can’t reside and breathe and really feel protected in my city.”

Anthony has been in jail for practically seven months now. As he awaits his pre-trial date, the prosecutor’s workplace has supplied a plea to one of many two felony drug counts. Anthony doesn’t need to take it as a result of he says it implies he’s dealing medicine, which he insists he’s not. He additionally has been tied up within the system lengthy sufficient to know prosecutors are inclined to cost excessive, he instructed me, to allow them to get you to plea to one thing lesser. But when the prosecutor drops the depend to possession solely, Anthony causes, he might need entry to diversion, which is what he actually needs.

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