Rutgers Law Center recently released a study on qualified immunity (QI). Rutgers Law Center is affiliated with Rutgers University in New Jersey. David D. Troutt spearheaded the study, Brutality By Design: Understanding Police Misconduct as Structural Inequality. Troutt is a law professor at Rutgers and founder of the Center on Law, Inequality and Metropolitan Equity (CLiME). The study was cowritten by Gatien Laurol, a CLiME Fellow.
Brutality By Design looks at the effects of police brutality in America. Examining QI is a significant part of this new study. Professor Troutt, Gatien Laurol, and their researchers also explore police union influence. They look into the relationship between police departments and prosecutors. And they discuss barriers to prosecuting police misconduct.
Per Patch.com, the study “examines police misconduct and the structural reasons why it’s difficult to hold American police officers accountable for misconduct and bad behavior.”
One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to hold bad cops accountable is qualified immunity. As long as QI is in place, it’s nearly impossible for victims of police violence and their loved ones to sue. In effect, this legal shield is a barrier to justice.
Qualified immunity is also inherently racist. As Patch.com reports, among the study’s findings is that “the use of force is disproportionately used against Black suspects.”
“If we are serious about dismantling the structure of racial inequality . . . then making transformative change in violent police behavior is an overdue imperative on the way to becoming a more just nation,” the study’s researchers conclude.
Without a doubt, one of these transformative changes is ending qualified immunity.