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Criminal (In)justice

Problems with police, prosecutors and courts have people asking: is our criminal justice system broken? University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris interviews the people who know the system best, and hears their best ideas for fixing it. Criminal (In)justice is an independent production created in partnership with 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station.
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Apr 6, 2020

The Supreme Court upholds Kansas's law barring the insanity defense in criminal proceedings. Dave breaks down the decision in Kahler v Kansas.

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Mar 31, 2020

Can you believe it? Our first episode was published on this date in 2016! 117 interviews and countless bonus episodes later, producer Josh Raulerson joins Dave to mark the occasion with a look back at four years of Criminal Injustice.

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Mar 28, 2020

Chicago's progressive chief prosecutor, Kim Foxx, has survived her first reelection challenge in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, reformer and Criminal Injustice alumnus George Gascon may be poised to knock off the tough-on-crime incumbent DA in Los Angeles. We review the latest on progressive prosecutors in politics.

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Mar 25, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing our institutions to confront a host of thorny problems. Among the thorniest for the criminal justice system: how to uphold the constitutional right to a speedy trial when courts are effectively shut down.

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Mar 21, 2020

Squalid and unhealthy even in the best of times, prisons and especially jails are especially vulnerable during a pandemic. That's not just a danger to incarcerated people -- it's a disaster for public health.

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Mar 17, 2020

Every year, more than 600,000 Americans leave our jails and
prisons. Many are on parole. Others people are put on
probation instead of going to prison. The job of supervising
all of them falls to parole and probation officers. Our guest,
Jason Hardy, served as a probation and parole officer for
four years in New Orleans, and he gives us a look into a
world that is invisible to the rest of us.

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Mar 10, 2020

Dave appears on WESA's The Confluence to discuss the case of a Pennsylvania judge disciplined for racist comments.

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Mar 6, 2020

Entertainment tycoon Harvey Weinstein was convicted last month on a range of sexual assault charges. Dave analyzes the decision and what it means for the #MeToo movement.

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Mar 3, 2020

San Quentin Prison in California has always had a reputation as one of the toughest, most violent prisons anywhere. But twelve years ago, the prison’s in-house newspaper, produced by inmates, began to change things. What can journalism do for incarcerated people, and for the prisons in which they serve their sentences? And what about the impact on people outside of prison?

Our guest is William Drummond, an award winning journalist, professor of journalism, and the author of “Prison Truth: The Story of the San Quentin News.”

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Feb 26, 2020

A post by Paul Butler at Crime Story Daily proposes a new theory about the uproar over actor Jussie Smollett's disputed claim of being the victim of a hate crime: the real target is a progressive prosecutor.

Crime Story: The Real Target of the Jussie Smollett
Charges

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Feb 23, 2020

The Trump administration's immigration lawsuits against so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions pits the Justice Department against the doctrine of federalism, formerly a bedrock principle of conservative ideology.

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Feb 19, 2020

The thwarted sentencing of Roger Stone kicks off the latest in a series of cascading crises for the integrity of the Justice Department, and it's all we can do to keep up. Dave recaps a week of dramatic and fast-moving events.

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Feb 18, 2020

Every year, courts hand out sentences of life without the possibility of parole to people convicted of serious crimes.  Our guest today was one of those people, and he’ll tell us what that was like – and, with his sentence commuted, what his life is like on the outside, after 43 years. 

Our guest is Robert Wideman, given a life sentence without parole at 25, and now free after Pennsylvania’s governor commuted his sentence in 2019. 

Feb 16, 2020

This episode originally appeared on the Criminal Injustice members feed on November 17, 2019. To hear all of our premium episodes as soon as they're released, become a $5 member at patreon.com/criminalinjustice


Michael Bloomberg makes a late entry to the Democratic presidential primary field. The billionaire media baron hasn't released a policy agenda for criminal justice, but he has a voluminous record from his time as New York City mayor -- and it's not good.

Feb 14, 2020

The chief prosecutor of St. Louis, a woman of color elected in 2016 on a reform platform, has faced intense pushback from the day she took office. Now Kim Gardner, the first African American to serve in the post, is suing the city and its police union under a federal law passed during Reconstruction to combat white supremacist vigilantism. Progressive prosecutors elected in other cities are rallying around Gardner, but can the suit succeed?

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Feb 11, 2020

Why are so many people dying in Mississippi state prisons? As with most systemic problems, the causes are many and complex.

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Feb 6, 2020

Donald Trump's impeachment lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, makes a remarkable assertion: if the president believes his own reelection is in the national interest, then nothing he does in pursuit of that goal can be impeachable.

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Feb 4, 2020

When HIV appeared in the U.S., it was a death sentence and a source of real fear. Now, with treatment, people living with the virus can live long and full lives. So why do laws still criminalize some actions of people living with HIV? Our guests are Jada Hicks, Staff Attorney for the Center for HIV Law and Policy, and Amir Sadeghi, the Center’s National Community Outreach Coordinator. They’ll discuss how the law still criminalize actions by people living with HIV which would cause no consequences for others.

Feb 1, 2020

Are you a Criminal Injustice patron? If not, here's a taste of what you're missing on the members feed! Unlock this episode and more exclusive content at patreon.com/criminalinjustice.


Kicking off the promotional tour for his new book, A City Divided, Dave spoke to a packed house at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library Lecture Hall on January 14. Criminal Injustice members can hear the full program, courtesy of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures.

Jan 28, 2020

At the direction of Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General William Barr is launching a national commission on crime and law enforcement. It's not the first time a president has formed such a panel, but indications are that this one will take a very different approach than its predecessors.

Jan 23, 2020

A quick note from Dave with details on upcoming public appearances for A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations. 

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Jan 21, 2020

Police suicides are on the rise. Just how bad is the problem? Why is it happening, and what can be done to stop it?

Sandy Jo MacArthur is a former Assistant Chief for the Los Angeles Police Department who now coordinates mental health training for all Los Angeles County law enforcement.

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Jan 17, 2020

Florida may soon execute a man convicted of murder largely on the testimony of another man with whom he shared a jail cell. The problem? The informant, an ex-cop, has a decades-long long record of fraud and deception. A joint report by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine says Paul Skalnik may be one of the most prolific jailhouse snitches in the country. But the use of such informants to bolster flimsy cases is widespread.

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Jan 13, 2020

A City Divided, David Harris's book on the 2010 beating of Jordan Miles by Pittsburgh police, drops this week. You can hear him talk about the project in person at one of these upcoming appearances:

Jan 11, 2020

Years before Ferguson, the well-publicized beating of a black teen by three white police officers exposed a deep racial divide in Pittsburghers' perceptions of, and experiences with, law enforcement. On its tenth anniversary, David Harris explores the Jordan Miles case and its aftermath in a new book -- A City Divided: Race, Fear and the Law in Police Confrontations.

In this special episode, Dave sits down with producer Josh Raulerson to discuss what the incident can teach us about race, human perception, and the militarization of policing.

Catch Dave on tour:

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