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Racial profiling

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The 2003 General Assembly enacted a law forbidding racial profiling by police officers, but only after stripping most of the provisions that would have given the law teeth, including one that would have required police to collect data on the number of people stopped for investigation, the reason for the stop, and the race of those stopped. So it was something of a surprise to see a news release from Amnesty International USA saying that “approximately” 286,749 Arkansans had been subjected to racial profiling by law enforcement officers. Where did this figure come from? A spokesman for Amnesty International said that the Arkansas number was an estimate extrapolated from a couple of national surveys, one by Harvard University and one by George Washington University. Incidentally, a governor’s commission on racial profiling has been holding meetings around the state that have been very poorly attended, suggesting that it’s unlikely the law will be strengthened in the 2005 legislative session.

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