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The Inverse Relationship between the Constitutionality and Effectiveness of New York City 'Stop and Frisk'

56 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2014 Last revised: 8 Oct 2014

Jeffrey Bellin

William & Mary Law School

Date Written: May 6, 2014

Abstract

New York City sits at the epicenter of an extraordinary criminal justice phenomenon. While employing aggressive policing tactics, such as “stop and frisk,” on an unprecedented scale, the City dramatically reduced both violent crime and incarceration – with the connections between these developments (if any) hotly disputed. Further clouding the picture, in August 2013, a federal district court ruled the City’s heavy reliance on “stop and frisk” unconstitutional. Popular and academic commentary generally highlights isolated pieces of this complex story, constructing an incomplete vision of the lessons to be drawn from the New York experience. This Article brings together all of the strands – falling crime, reduced incarceration and aggressive policing – analyzing the hazy historical and empirical connections between them, and evaluating the legal implications of a crime-fighting policy that might “work” to reduce both crime and incarceration precisely because of the factors that render it unconstitutional.

Keywords: Stop and Frisk, Equal Protection, Racial Profiling, Fourth Amendment, New York City

Suggested Citation

Bellin, Jeffrey, The Inverse Relationship between the Constitutionality and Effectiveness of New York City 'Stop and Frisk' (May 6, 2014). Boston University Law Review, Vol. 94, p. 1495, 2014; William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-274. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2413935

Jeffrey Bellin (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

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