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Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys

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Claire Trescher

on 8 April 2014

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Transcript of Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys

by Victor M. Rios
Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys
Chapter1: Dreams Deferred: The Patterns of Punishment in Oakland
Chapter 5: "Dummy Smart": Misrecognition, Acting Out, and "Going Dumb"
Cultural Capital
Social Capital
Page 123:
In an environment where there were few formal avenues for expressing dissent toward a system, which the boys believed to be extremely repressive, they developed forms of resistance that they believed could change, even if only temporarily, the outcome of their treatment.
Research Questions:
1. How do surveillance, punishment and criminal justice practices affect the lives of the marginalized boys?
2. What patterns of punishment do young people encounter in their neighborhoods in Oakland?
3. What effects do these patterns of punishment have on the lives of young men in this study?
4. How do punitive encounters with police, probation officers, teachers and administrators, and other authority figures shape the meaning that young people create about themselves and about their obstacles, opportunities and future aspirations?
Point of the Project:
-to show the consequences of social control on the lives of young people regardless of good or bad intentions
“If men [and women] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (p. 9)

Chapter 2: The Flatlands of Oakland and the Youth Control Complex
Oakland, CA
population of 460,000- 6th most populous metropolitan area in the US (San Francisco Bay Area: total population of approximately 7.9 million)
Whites: 36% Blacks: 30% Latinos: 26% (as of 2006)
10,000 gang members live in the district
4th largest violent crime rate in the country
33% of the population live below the poverty line (US Bureau Census 2000)
Unemployment rate: 17.7% as of 2010
Moral panics- often constructed as a result of economic and cultural crises
Example: black muggers, pregnant teens, gang members
Media and politicians create moral panics
Critical criminology- the study of crime in relation to power, examining crime as a socially constructed phenomenon
Urban ethnography- the systematic and meticulous method of examining culture unfolding in everyday life

Terms from this chapter 1
Goal of the experiment:
to understand how boys in these networks of crime, criminalization, and punishment made sense of these processes and to observe their interactions with authority figures

Chapter 3: The Labeling Hype: Coming of Age in the Era of Mass Incarceration

In the era of mass incarceration, labeling is a process by which agencies of social control further stigmatize and mark the boys in response to their original label. This in turn creates a vicious cycle that increases the boys’ experience with criminalization, this is called labeling hype.
Criminalization became internalized
unnecessary citations
Why Oakland?
Over policing-under policing paradox

Officers police certain kinds of deviance and crime, while neglecting or ignoring other instance when their help is needed.
Promoted street violence “be a grown man and defend yourself”
By criminalizing all of the boys, the police, it seemed could not tell the difference between criminals and innocent young people try to live their lives.
Large Black and Latino Communities
Pervasive system of policing and surveillance
Dynamic youth subcultures
Large working class and poor population
These factors make a compelling place for the study of inner-city youth and social control, as well as a social landscape of other cities with large Black and Latino/a populations throughout the US

Institutions passed on their punitive approaches to treating deviant and delinquent behavior.
Police and probation officers became involved in non-criminal justice matters at school and in the community.
Police officers would advise parents and students on academic matter.
Code of the street

Assumed that all the boys were actively engaged in criminal and violent activity
Provide the boys little choice but to engage in the code.
Officers would refuse to provide protection
The code of the street allowed the police to justify harassment and arrest, schools to punish and suspend students for defiance, and community members to fear young people.
The code offers individuals a way to protect themselves from victimization in violent communities and to build respect from others
Since the 1960s, Oakland has been one of the cities where policies, before being implemented throughout the US, are put into practice, such as:
zero tolerance
mandatory sentencing
gang enhancements- committing a crime to benefit a gang
mass incarceration

Don’t snitch campaign

The “don’t snitch” campaign among the boys in this study was an attempt to avoid further criminalization and unjust arrests and sentencing and to protect them from being “ratted out” by the police
Youth were being incarcerated through false accusation, police “step-ups”, entrapment, and forced testimonies led many of the boys to declare a vow against ever providing information to police, even when they were victims.
Resist the over policing-under policing paradox and mass incarceration.

Youth control complex:
“a ubiquitous system if criminalization molded by the synchronized, systematic punishment meted out by socializing and social control institutions” (p. 40)
takes a toll on the mind and future outcomes of a particular young person
example: being called a “thug,” being told by your teacher you won’t amount to anything, and frisked by a police officer all in the same day
composed of material and symbolic criminalization

For many of the boys detention facilities became preferred social contexts because they provided structure, and discipline.

could predict cause and effect
clear set of rules vs. unpredictable

Chapter 4: The Coupling of Criminal Justice and Community Institutions

Problem: Mostly white, middle-class, college-educated men are trying to solve the issue of disproportionate black crime.

Criminalizing The Victim
School personnel, police officers, probation officers and other adults in the community had created an environment that made young people feel criminalized from a very young age, even when they had good intentions. (82)
Disadvantaged youth’s “play”, how they spend their time given the resources available to them, has become criminalized.
Gang database accentuates criminalization, as it allows police to keep track of most “at-risk” youth and impose tougher policing and harsher sentencing.
Community Categorization

“Courtesy Stigma”
Parents turn to Probation officers for parenting advice.
Parents begin acting similarly and thus often break trust with youth.

Material criminalization
Police harassment, exclusion from businesses and public recreation spaces, and the enforcement of zero tolerance policies that lead to youth detention, suspensions, expulsions and incarcerations
Symbolic criminalization
The surveillance, profiling, stigma and degrading interactions that young people regularly endure
Recognized as "racial microaggressions"
Subtle acts of racism that people of color experience on a daily basis

According to the boys, P.O. served the purpose of punishing them by branding them criminals in front of the rest of the community.
Most had high and unrealistic expectations of the boys, but did not provide the resources necessary to meet these expectations.
Probation generated desire to change but did not provide the resources to do so.
A good P.O. would provide access to programs and jobs.
Reinforces the idea of overpolicing/underpolicing.
Leads to stigmatization in the community, victimization by peers, and rearrests for minor infractions.
Youth learn to manipulate the system

Chapter 6: Proving Manhood
Masculinity as a rehabilitative tool
Institutions and societal structures challenge these boys' masculinity
Forced into hyper masculinity because they are made our to be something they are not
If they don't follow the masculinity code, then they are put in a vulnerable position on the streets and within institutions

Community Centers
When asked “Would you join a program that took you on field trips or where you could play sports or talk to a mentor or get a job?” all of them responded yes.
Because of declining funds to community programs:
Programs turn to county probation department, or other state funds, which then require programs to be advised by P.O. and the county.
Unable to support “at-risk” youth; only invest in those they deem as potentially responsive to their programming.
Conclusion: The key is to invest enough resources in social programs which are independent from and set clear parameters between themselves and criminal justice institutions.

Chapter 7: Guilty by Association: Acting White or Acting Lawful?
Delinquents & non-delinquents:
This chapter focuses on the experiences of the “non-delinquent” youths in Rios’ study
Rios identifies some primary differences between “delinquent” and “non-delinquent” behaviors within the frames of how member of each group interact with police and school

Interactions with the authorities:

Dignity vs. freedom; criminalization vs. conformity (144-145)
Compliance is “cowardice” (J.T., 147)
Paul, and talking back to police; freedom for dignity (148)
Sanchez-Jankowski: “Security maximizing value system” (152)

Drawbacks to conformity:
J.T. and the candy shop—equally scrutinized (151-152)
“Many felt that they were betwixt and between, accepted neither here nor there.” (146)
James’ story: the partial inescapability of criminalization and incarceration (155-156)

Fordham and Ogbu: “acting white” and education as “a subtractive process” (153)
Conservative thought (153)
Fryer: popularity in school (154)
Rios’ findings (154)
Discussion Questions:
1. What examples of behavior performed by the youth did you already understand prior to reading the book?
2. What examples of knowing why the youth behave a certain way completely changes your understanding of this social group of youth?
3. How can we work to separate criminalization from schools, community programs and the home? (ex. no longer threatening to call the police, thus reinforcing criminalization)
Double Bind
When expectations pull someone in two opposite directions
Affects the boys in this book by forcing them to choose between complying with authority, but increasing their vulnerability and following the code of the streets, but having trouble with the police
This concept allows the system to further criminalize and punish these young boys
"Real men"
Society tells them that real men need a job to support their family, but there are a lack of employment opportunities, leading to frustration, which pushes them into hyper masculinity
Hyper masculinity: the exaggeration of stereotypical male behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression and sexuality
It is "taught, learned, challenged and embraced" (page 138)
Serves as a resource for resistance and self-affirmation
Police officers threaten them with incarceration to learn how to be real men (page 139)
Jose states, "the probation officers tell us to be "real men," to show respect, but they don't see that if we show respect, we'll get treated like punks...being a man is different out here"
Not just young boys proving masculinity
Police officers abusing power and disciplining them to prove their manhood as well. Trying to gain respect by humiliating them (page 136)
Women proving masculinity to an extent to gain respect and security while still being seen with a "good" reputation

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