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Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System

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Justice While Black is a must-read for every young black male in America—and for everyone else who cares about their survival and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind essential guide for African-American families about how to understand the criminal justice system, and about why that system continues to see black men as targets—and as dollar signs. The book provides prac Justice While Black is a must-read for every young black male in America—and for everyone else who cares about their survival and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind essential guide for African-American families about how to understand the criminal justice system, and about why that system continues to see black men as targets—and as dollar signs. The book provides practical, straightforward advice on how to deal with specific legal situations: the threat of arrest, being arrested, being in custody, preparing for and undergoing a trial, and navigating the appeals and parole process. The primary goal of this book is to become a primer for African Americans on how to avoid becoming ensnared in the criminal justice system. While the precarious safety of black males has received renewed interest in the past year because of the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, the fact is that this group has always been under threat from the armed guardians of the white social order. The tactics have been modernized, but the impact is still devastating—we are witnessing an epic criminalization of the African-American community at levels never before seen since the end of slavery.


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Justice While Black is a must-read for every young black male in America—and for everyone else who cares about their survival and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind essential guide for African-American families about how to understand the criminal justice system, and about why that system continues to see black men as targets—and as dollar signs. The book provides prac Justice While Black is a must-read for every young black male in America—and for everyone else who cares about their survival and well-being. This is a first-of-its-kind essential guide for African-American families about how to understand the criminal justice system, and about why that system continues to see black men as targets—and as dollar signs. The book provides practical, straightforward advice on how to deal with specific legal situations: the threat of arrest, being arrested, being in custody, preparing for and undergoing a trial, and navigating the appeals and parole process. The primary goal of this book is to become a primer for African Americans on how to avoid becoming ensnared in the criminal justice system. While the precarious safety of black males has received renewed interest in the past year because of the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, the fact is that this group has always been under threat from the armed guardians of the white social order. The tactics have been modernized, but the impact is still devastating—we are witnessing an epic criminalization of the African-American community at levels never before seen since the end of slavery.

54 review for Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Milton Wills

    A Must Read This book does an excellent job at examining the history of African-Americans and law enforcement. Reading this book has been an enlightening experience, offering real advice and guidelines for dealing with traffic stops and even being stopped on foot. I'm sure this book will not only save lives but some careers as well. A Must Read This book does an excellent job at examining the history of African-Americans and law enforcement. Reading this book has been an enlightening experience, offering real advice and guidelines for dealing with traffic stops and even being stopped on foot. I'm sure this book will not only save lives but some careers as well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    CTEP

    Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System is, as the subtitle implies, a how-to guide for African-American families dealing with the criminal justice system. The manual is written by Robbin Shipp, Esq, an African American female lawyer and Nick Chiles, a Pulitizer-Prize winning journalist. Throughout the mere 150 pages of the book, advice is given on what to do when stopped by police, arrested by police and how to deal with the ensuin Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System is, as the subtitle implies, a how-to guide for African-American families dealing with the criminal justice system. The manual is written by Robbin Shipp, Esq, an African American female lawyer and Nick Chiles, a Pulitizer-Prize winning journalist. Throughout the mere 150 pages of the book, advice is given on what to do when stopped by police, arrested by police and how to deal with the ensuing trauma, drama and racism inherent to the American criminal justice system. The guide could easily be transferable to other People of Color and minority populations that deal with the excessive force and discrimination found in police departments across the country. Systematic and institutional racism are centuries-old tools of oppression in our country. Published in 2014, this book is timely. Robbin Shipp acknowledges the killings of black men by police and reserves a whole chapter on the history of policing African-American populations going back to the times of slave revolts in the 18th century. The main purpose of this book is to alleviate the suffering and prison time served by Black men, if they are not killed first. She offers checklists and practical advice for during and after being arrested including advice for the families. The advice offered is given from someone who has defended countless black men through two decades in the Atlanta court system. Details are included about precedent court cases and measures that have shaped the current inequalities and high imprisonment rate in our country today. The Terry frisk, broken window theory, the War on Drugs, mandatory minimum sentencing, increased criminalization of youthful behavior, the school-prison pipeline and prison-industrial complex are all offered up in connection with each other in a succinct and conversational tone. Anyone who reads this book will come away with a better understanding of the criminal justice system as it functions today and how to best survive when placed in it. Robbin Shipp’s reasoning for providing this advice is taken from the example of how Nation of Islam members were not harassed by police unless the police had a concrete reason to do so. Police knew that Nation of Islam members were knowledgeable about the law and would not be caught in any traps. She believes knowledge is power and she is passing this knowledge on. Although, I knew about many of these structures and inequalities that Robbin Shipp presented, the anecdotal evidence and language used made the issues more accessible. Plea bargains were especially eye-opening for me. The fact that 97% of all federal cases and 94% of all state cases never make it to court due to plea bargaining is bewildering to me. A critique I present is that Robbin Shipp does not give examples of ways the criminal justice system could change. She offers up the societal issues and individual behaviors that make the criminal justice system what it is today, but she offers nothing in how the system can be changed to reduce and eliminate the need for many of the inequities found in the system. Examples that she barely alluded to include the elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing, the reduction of the prison-industrial complex and providing de-escalation training and video camera vests for police officers. As a lawyer, it may not be in her purview to present that material in a how-to legal advice guide. For CTEP members, this book is a practical guide for anyone living in and dealing with our country’s legal system. We work with many people who have or will encounter and suffer due to these systems. This book provided a better understanding of the legal system without involved legal terms and put today’s issues in the context of history. I would recommend it to any citizen of our country due to the pressing nature of these issues that affect and hurt us all. I chatted with Michelle about this book at a prior Corps Day, and I was intrigued immediately. The book presents a practical approach to what you should and should not do when engaging with law enforcement (i.e. what to say or not say, understanding your basic rights, etc.) Conversely, it tells you what the police and legal system should or SHOULD NOT be doing (racial profiling, unwarranted stop and frisk situations, illegal searches, why taking the plea bargain is often not in your favor, etc.) Even if you are pretty sure you will never end up on the wrong side of the justice system- you should know how to protect yourself if you do, and this book gives you the intellectual power to be able to do that. But beyond that, this book does an excellent job of examining the history of African-American existences and law enforcement. It exposes knowledge about the prison-industrial complex which has ensnared so many young black men in America, and it draws the lines of reasoning all the way back to slave patrols and the KKK. There are facts surrounding how much money the prison-industrial complex is really worth, how much more likely you are to be shot by the police if you are an unarmed black person, and much more. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I'm really saddened that a book like this is necessary. Some of the topics presented should not have been solely for African Americans. There are numerous people that do not understand our criminal justice system. For example, the whole section of plea bargaining - I found that most people do not understand this. That if you plea, you are admitting guilt to the offense for less time than if you go to trial (supposedly). Or you could end up doing more time if you were found not guilty at trial. O I'm really saddened that a book like this is necessary. Some of the topics presented should not have been solely for African Americans. There are numerous people that do not understand our criminal justice system. For example, the whole section of plea bargaining - I found that most people do not understand this. That if you plea, you are admitting guilt to the offense for less time than if you go to trial (supposedly). Or you could end up doing more time if you were found not guilty at trial. One should not put faith in the system, especially if you know that you did not commit the crime. You've got so many people that have not committed any crimes, and yet they take a plea bargain because they are afraid of going to trial and losing. That's a real fear. And this is what our criminal justice system has come to. This book loses a couple of stars because it really needed an editor. But overall it is a great read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lena

  5. 5 out of 5

    bernard's

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamelyah

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jy Wescott

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evan

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dean Ramser

  11. 5 out of 5

    Walteen Truely

  12. 5 out of 5

    Monica Carter

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

  14. 4 out of 5

    TIFFANY

  15. 4 out of 5

    Randy White

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brynn

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Devoe

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jess Jacob

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    Lisa Roberts

  20. 4 out of 5

    Monet Spalding

  21. 5 out of 5

    Z

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rosetta Marie Archie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melanie CJ

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ras Mashramani

  25. 5 out of 5

    BRITTANY N JOHNSON

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jan Nunley

  27. 5 out of 5

    José Souza

  28. 5 out of 5

    Norris

  29. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yaqina

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  32. 4 out of 5

    Nickita Council

  33. 5 out of 5

    Briana Ford

  34. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  35. 4 out of 5

    Robin Wilson

  36. 4 out of 5

    Ladonna

  37. 5 out of 5

    Michael

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    bananya

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    Lorraine Thomas

  40. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Moore

  41. 4 out of 5

    Tammara

  42. 5 out of 5

    Ashaki

  43. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  44. 5 out of 5

    Niv

  45. 4 out of 5

    Monikerichardson

  46. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  47. 4 out of 5

    Janez

  48. 5 out of 5

    Q Miles

  49. 4 out of 5

    Tiye Harris

  50. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

  51. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  52. 4 out of 5

    TIFFANY ANDERSON

  53. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  54. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

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