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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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May 31, 2020

Viral video of an encounter in NYC's Central Park shows a white woman calling 911 to report another park user is threatening her life, apparently trying to provoke a violent police response against the "African American man" who had simply asked her to leash her dog.

Reflexively fearing people of another race is racist -- but it's mostly a function of the garden-variety implicit bias that most of us harbor on some level, whether we're aware of it or not. Actively weaponizing that fear  in others when you know it's baseless... that's taking it to another level.

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May 29, 2020

Another horrific episode of police violence, captured on video in Minneapolis, graphically recalls the 2014 killing of Eric Garner by NYPD officers who were never criminally charged in his death. This time the officers may face charges, but prosecuting police is still notoriously difficult. Is there hope for justice?

May 18, 2020

The killing of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, by two white men in Georgia went largely unnoticed until video of the February shooting went viral earlier this month. Now the father and son face murder charges -- but will Georgia's "Stand Your Ground" law block their conviction?

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May 14, 2020

Recommended reading on how COVID-19 is impacting incarcerated populations and what must be done to avoid catastrophe: "Let the People Go" by Joseph Margulies in the Boston Review.

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May 10, 2020

COVID-19 has exposed systemic injustice and institutional failures at every level of society, and nowhere more than in the criminal justice system. Incarcerated people are already being hit hard by the pandemic, but the situation is rapidly deteriorating -- and the effects will be felt beyond the walls of prisons and jails.

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May 5, 2020

Louisiana's public defender system is funded by fines from traffic violations. But with far fewer cars on the road due to COVID-19, an already badly underfunded system is at the breaking point.

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Apr 28, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that jury decisions in state criminal cases must be unanimous, overturning a precedent that goes back to Jim Crow. 

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Apr 23, 2020

Workplaces are adjusting to life under lockdown by holding meetings via videoconference — and the U.S. Supreme Court is no exception.

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Apr 19, 2020

President Trump claims “total authority” to override governors and end their stay-at-home orders, yet again raising the question: can he do that? No, as Dave explains on 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence, he cannot.

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Apr 14, 2020

A trademark lawsuit out of Chicago raises the question: in the midst of a global pandemic, what counts as a legal “emergency”?

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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.

Support Criminal Injustice at $5/month to unlock extra bonus episodes and more on the Members feed: patreon.com/criminalinjustice

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?

Support Criminal Injustice at $5/month to unlock extra bonus episodes and more on the Members feed: patreon.com/criminalinjustice

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