Episodes

6 episodes
  • Ep. 1: Autopsy No. 86-999

    Oct 26 2017
    [Contains explicit content] The series begins with the deaths of two young black men. First, Freddie Gray, who died after police arrested him and threw him into the back of a police van in Baltimore. Then, Len Bias: the rising college basketball player. His cocaine overdose in 1986 helped ignite a new, more aggressive phase of the War On Drugs, one that zeroed in on crack cocaine and black communities. This episode looks at the ties between the two deaths, and how the draconian, anti-crack drug laws of the mid-80s, set policing in America on the course of lethal aggression against black Americans we’re still witnessing today.
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    23 mins
  • Ep. 2: 100:1

    Oct 26 2017

    [Contains explicit content] It is the mid-1980s, and America is alarmed by the dawn of crack cocaine. We go to Capitol Hill for the little-known story of behind the “tough-on-crime” era, when lawmakers played fast and loose with mandatory minimum sentencing, literally “ picking numbers out of [their] asses” according to one insider. The harsh anti-drug legislation - cobbled together in weeks - included the now notorious 100 to 1 sentencing ratio for crack vs. powder cocaine, which disproportionately affected black communities and led to mass incarceration.

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    28 mins
  • Ep. 3: The 202

    Oct 26 2017
    [Contains explicit content] Welcome to Washington, DC - the nation’s capital. By the late 1980s, the crack cocaine trade had transformed DC into the "murder capital" of America. In this episode, Christopher Johnson takes a trip back home, to the DC area, to remember just how devastating crack cocaine was for the city. A former narcotics cop takes him across the Anacostia River, and through what was once a notorious open-air crack market. We talk to a local musician, a former homicide cop, and Christopher's big cousin Cooki, who all remember the days when DC “went sideways.”
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    24 mins
  • Ep. 4: Inmate #06831-424

    Oct 26 2017
    [Contains explicit content] Close your eyes and think “crack dealer.” Who do you see? How about a chubby big brother from the Chicago projects, who played high school football and made sure everyone did their homework before bed? Eric Wilson had a mantra: protect the family. So, when the jobs weren’t coming and his mom’s drug problem got in the way, Eric did what he had to do. He sold crack cocaine. Thanks to the harsh drug provision that became known as “100 to 1,” Eric Wilson, Inmate #06831-424, got the kind of brutal prison sentence no one on his side could have imagined.
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    30 mins
  • Ep. 5: 500 Names

    Oct 26 2017
    [Contains explicit content] Decades ago, you sent hundreds of people to prison. And to this day, you know a lot of those sentences weren’t fair. How do you make things right? As a federal judge in the mid-90s, Nancy Gertner’s hands were tied by laws that forced her to come down severely against drug offenses – especially when crack cocaine was involved. We often think of judges as all-powerful in their courts. But in this episode, we look at how anti-crack laws forced judges to consider cold sentencing formulas, instead of human beings. Today, Gertner is finding ways to undo some of that damage.
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    24 mins
  • Ep. 6: 37th & 8th

    Oct 26 2017

    [Contains explicit content] The “war on crack” is over, but the legacy of that battle is alive today – especially in police departments around the country. In this episode, we look at how changes in police practices and attitudes reaching back at least three decades are still shaping the way cops behave, especially towards black Americans. And we explore police behavior as an extension of a larger understanding of blacks as inherently criminal - and the future of that understanding under President Donald Trump.

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    26 mins