Both Sides of the Bars
Is the criminal justice reform movement hurting families?
As grown up as I felt at nine, whenever my parents let me walk to school, the corner store or Prospect Park with friends, I’d have been lying through my teeth if I denied sometimes feeling afraid — even in the little slice of Brooklyn I called home. But it wasn’t the New York Police Department or endemic racism that made me anxious. In the 1990s, getting mugged or beaten up in my own neighborhood always felt like more than a remote possibility. That sense of wariness was dull and could easily be forgotten if I was distracted. But it was always there, just under the surface.
That anxiety disappeared when we moved to a mostly white town in suburban Long Island. At school, no one looked like me. And as a half Dominican, half Puerto Rican kid with, uh, different hair, “the new kid from Brooklyn” got teased a bit — even racially taunted on occasion. It was a heartbreaking transition in 1996: I hadn’t wanted to leave our two-bedroom apartment on Ocean Parkway, between Church and Caton. I didn’t care that my sister and I would have our own rooms and even a swimming pool in the backyard. And as much as I loved baseball, I was unmoved by the fact that Nassau County’s Little League fields were in far better condition than the Parade Ground’s fields near Prospect Park.
Continue reading the entire piece here at Deseret News
Rafael Mangual is the Nick Ohnell Fellow and head of research for the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. He is also the author of Criminal (In)Justice: What the Push for Decarceration and Depolicing Gets Wrong and Who It Hurts Most. This essay is an excerpt from his book Criminal (In)Justice.
Photo by Rattankun Thongbun/iStock