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A Matter of Fact

The Maryland State Police Drug Interdiction Squad, an all white unit, has been warned by senior state police officials to be "impartial" after the Associated Press reported that 75 percent of the drivers stopped and searched on Interstate-95 are black.

More than 90 percent of police officers in the U.S. are men, and more than 80 percent of police officers are white. The number of women at executive levels in law enforcement is estimated to be under two percent.

According to the NY City police department, its officers shot 16 people in 1993 who were "armed" with toy guns.

The National Association of Police Chiefs reported that the number of police who died in the line of duty dropped to a 30-year low of 118 in 1996.

A 1996 study conducted by Buffalo State University of New York, found that police officers are eight times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in a homicide (on or off duty) and three times more likely to commit suicide than to die in job-related accidents.

A fact-checking intern for The Nation called the National Center for Health Statistics to learn he number of murders committed in the U.S. in 1995. The answer: 21,577. Out of curiosity he asked how many suicides there were. Answer: 30,893. With all the furor over violent crime in the U.S. it makes you wonder why so many more people do fatal violence to themselves than are the victims of deadly force committed by others.

California's Doris Tate Crime Victims Bureau (the driving force behind that state's "three strikes" law) gets 78 percent of its funding, along with free office space and lobbying staff, from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the prison guard's union. The CCPOA also provides 84 percent of the funding for Crime Victims United, another PAC which presses for tougher laws and longer sentences.

State per capita spending on corrections has more than doubled since 1985, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and corrections spending was the fastest growing component of state budgets in 1995.

A 1996 report released by the Criminal Justice Policy Council, entitled "Punishment, Incarceration and Crime," based on analysis of crime rates and incarceration rates in Texas between 1989 and 1995, concludes that building more prisons has little to do with lowering crime rates. The report stated that the violent crime rate in Texas actually rose 0.8 percent over the period while the state's incarceration rate rose 107 percent.

In March 1996, Washington state's prison population rose above 12,000, more than double the state's 1987 prison population. The WA DOC employs more than 6,000 workers, almost exactly one DOC employee for every two WA prisoners.

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