Racial disparities still exist in the criminal justice system, but they are getting better according to reports from the Public Policy Institute of California and other nonpartisan groups. Researchers have found that the racial gaps between white people and minorities have narrowed across many areas of criminal justice including incarceration, parole and probation rates.
Statistics show that the number of arrests for petty crimes is increasing in California and across the nation. This has caused concern with some justice reform advocates because being arrested and convicted of a crime can cast a major shadow over a person's life, reducing their income and limiting their options.
California residents may think of felonies as violent crimes like homicide, rape and arson, and they may be surprised to learn that an individual could be branded a felon for innocuous behavior such as making an unusual noise in a post office or handling a crate of foreign primates without first donning waterproof footwear. Even calling in sick just to get a day off is a felony in some situations.
Being pulled over in California for a suspected DUI can be reason enough for concern for any motorist. But breath test results may not be accurate for individuals on the Keto diet because of the way fat is broken down by the liver. When the body is in what's known as ketosis, a false positive could be registered on a Breathalyzer under the right circumstances.
A lawsuit was filed against California-based Apple Inc. on April 22 by a teenager who claims that the company's facial recognition security software falsely linked him to a series of store thefts. The New York teen is seeking $1 billion in damages. The teen says that his problems began when his non-photo driver's permit was stolen. The lawsuit alleges that a serial shoplifter presented security officers at an Apple store with the stolen permit when he was asked to establish his identity. This, according to the lawsuit, set off a chain of events that linked the teen to a series of other thefts committed by the shoplifter.
When California residents are shopping in stores, they might expect to be seen on security cameras. Modern technology is enabling store owners to go one step further by recording and sharing images of shoppers in an effort to prevent theft. Facial recognition technology is hailed by some as a major breakthrough in crime prevention, but critics say that unrestricted use of the technology is an invasion of privacy.
Young people in California are more likely to bear the brunt of the criminal justice system. Indeed, based on a recent study from the RAND Corporation, Americans under 26 are far more prone to have been arrested than older people. While Black men have long been subject to disproportionate arrest rates, the arrest rates of women and white Americans are growing the most quickly, according to the report.
Misdemeanors -- small criminal offenses that are punishable by a maximum of one year in jail -- are a big part of the legal system throughout California and the rest of America. In fact, misdemeanors constitute about 80 percent of all arrests as well as 80 percent of state dockets, according to FBI arrest data. As a result, the number of misdemeanor cases that are filed annually can reach 13 million, which is an enormous number.