The backlash is underway against a recent wave of prosecutors who champion criminal justice reform. Here are some methods of attack.
The carceral system fails to heal victims and perpetuates trauma by caging human beings. It‘s time to try something else.
Stefanie Mundhenk Harrelson Jul 18, 2019
Oakland Police Conducted An Illegal Search And Then Lied About It. But They May Be Spared From Discipline.
A California Superior Court ruling gives officers accused of misconduct access to investigator notes and files while cases are in progress.
Sensational and false news reports about the drug are pushing lawmakers to enact harmful policies.
Four transgender women say clinicians and staff deny them gender-affirming care and see their identity as in conflict with sex offender treatment.
Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard Jul 15, 2019
Outlets ran over 200 articles covering the vandalism. The outsize attention will likely damage young lives.
Adam H. Johnson Jul 11, 2019
Republican Mike Dunleavy was elected on a platform to ‘Make Alaska Safe Again’ and has rolled back recent changes.
ABC News claims anti-police violence is on the rise but offers no data.
Police and prosecutors framed a father of four in a 2007 murder case with local and national political implications.
In rhetoric reminiscent of the ‘superpredator‘ scare of the 1990s, the New Orleans District Attorney warned of ‘a brazen population of delinquent teens.‘ But advocates and crime analysts alike say the data doesn't support his fearmongering claims about kids and crime.
Mike Hayes Jun 27, 2019
Fremont Police Said a Man Wielded a Deadly Weapon When They Shot Him. But Records Reveal He Waved a Tent Pole.
The police union’s newly elected vice president led the investigation into the shooting that cleared Officer William Gourley of any wrongdoing.
Darwin BondGraham Jun 21, 2019
As the Hampton Roads Regional Jail proposes spending $7 million for 113 new guards, advocates renew calls for officials to improve conditions—and an Appeal analysis suggests that the jail could save millions by incarcerating fewer people with mental illness.
The popularity of Axon’s tech soared after the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014, but it may be doing more harm than good in protecting people from excessive force.
Jonathan Ben-Menachem Jun 10, 2019
Records show Kim Ogg’s office appeared to misrepresent felony prosecutor caseloads in its $21 million budget request.
The sensationalist coverage of a handful of fights highlights local media’s misplaced priorities.
Adam H. Johnson Jun 07, 2019
Court challenges and a sweeping reform bill are offering hope to men trapped in isolation for decades.
Joshua Manson Jun 03, 2019
City officials say its vast network of cameras are simply a tool when responding to 911 calls and complaints of criminal activity. But several cases suggest the system serves an additional purpose.
Since 2017, LaToni Daniel has been incarcerated pretrial in a capital murder case. During that time, Daniel became pregnant, and she just delivered a baby boy. But as she brings in new life, she also faces the death penalty.
Lauren Gill May 31, 2019
With Caroline Isaacs of the American Friends Service Committee
Adam H. Johnson May 30, 2019
Chicago hands out millions in settlements and legal fees for police misconduct. Its newly inaugurated mayor should take a dollar from the department’s budget for every dollar the city spends settling with its victims.
Jonathan Ben-Menachem May 29, 2019
Newly released records show that task force members faced allegations of theft and questionable overtime, all under the watch of a commander later fired for lying as the misconduct was investigated.
Darwin BondGraham May 23, 2019
U.S. attorneys in D.C. have opposed the resentencing of all 14 people who have petitioned for early release under a local law.
Despite accounting for less than 12 percent of the state’s adult population, roughly 40 percent of all bail bonds were issued in cases involving a Black defendant.
Joshua Vaughn May 22, 2019
New York Prisons Offer ‘Tough Love’ Boot Camp Programs. But Prisoners Say They’re ‘Torture’ And ‘Hell.’
Prisoners can shave time off their sentences by participating in shock incarceration programs. More than a dozen former shock prisoners say that comes at a steep cost.
Keri Blakinger May 21, 2019
State Trooper Said Man Took Bag From Fentanyl Supplier, But Video Demonstrated That The Deal Never Went Down
Trooper testimony inconsistent with video and misconduct among state and local law enforcement in New Hampshire and Massachusetts have caused at least 15 drug cases to unravel.
Zachary A. Siegel May 20, 2019
A former Baltimore officer says the Hopkins plan should be viewed skeptically because campus police have a history of deadly force and its officials come from troubled Baltimore Police units.
Larry Smith May 16, 2019
New York City just paid Jose LaSalle of the Copwatch Patrol Unit nearly $900,000 over claims of false arrest related to the 2016 incident, but his fight for justice is far from over.
Ashoka Jegroo May 09, 2019
In a case of mistaken identity, Jada Noone was arrested by Pennsylvania State Police, spent 15 days in jail and faced a felony drug case before charges were dismissed. She’s now suing over her false arrest.
Joshua Vaughn May 07, 2019
Rashad McNulty entered a guilty plea in a series of federal gang indictments in New York that have been criticized as racist and overly punitive. But before McNulty was even sentenced, he died in jail. Now, his family is seeking justice.
Aaron Morrison May 01, 2019
Antonio May, a 32 year-old father of three, died in the Fulton County Jail in September after deputies pepper-sprayed and shot him with a Taser.
Aaron Morrison Apr 25, 2019
After a drug bust involving Houston narcotics officer Gerald Goines turned deadly, questions are being raised about how he operated during his time on the force.
Mike Hayes Apr 23, 2019
Police union lawsuits delayed many local governments from complying with a new transparency law. In the meantime, some cities have destroyed files.
Darwin BondGraham Apr 17, 2019
In 2018, Brittany Smith killed a man who she said brutally raped her. Smith was charged with murder and she now faces life in prison as well as challenges getting adequate treatment at a state psychiatric hospital.
In 2000, Lamar Burks was convicted of murder and given a 70-year sentence. But the federal indictment of a DEA agent and witnesses who say Burks is innocent have raised new questions about his case.
Mike Hayes Apr 03, 2019
Attorneys for a man exonerated in a Baltimore murder say detectives suppressed exculpatory evidence and that the police’s homicide unit has a pattern and practice of similar conduct in decades of cases.
Amelia McDonell-Parry Apr 02, 2019
Attorneys and advocates call for change in Madison County after the deaths of three Black people at its jail and because of what they allege is a system of roadblocks targeting Black residents.
Aaron Morrison Mar 27, 2019
A scandal of falsified drug arrests is spreading at a Florida sheriff’s office that has also spent more than $1.33 million settling excessive force lawsuits and is at the center of the increasingly troubled Robert Kraft case.
Meg O'Connor Mar 26, 2019
In the deep blue home of Beto O’Rourke, attorneys and advocates are questioning the county’s multi-million-dollar contract to detain migrants and refugees.
Debbie Nathan Mar 20, 2019
Their claims are part of a federal lawsuit; other women say they, too, were assaulted and the officer now faces a raft of criminal charges.
Joshua Vaughn Mar 19, 2019
In 2017, over 2,000 homeless people were arrested on charges including drinking in public and panhandling. That same year, roughly 1,400 people were arrested in Miami-Dade County for rape, murder, and robbery.
Meg O'Connor Mar 18, 2019
The Bureau of Prisons’ South Central regional director utilized incarcerated people from a Texas prison to work on a landscaping project at his church.
Lauren Gill Mar 12, 2019
Audia Jones pledges to tackle ‘brokenness in the system’ by unseating Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Roxanna Asgarian Mar 07, 2019
A judge excluded a confession that exonerated defendants in one trial related to a Delaware prison uprising, but a pair of defendants were nonetheless acquitted, promising further problems for prosecutors.
Ella Fassler Mar 05, 2019
In April 2018, Herman Bell was paroled after spending 45 years in prison in a case involving the shooting deaths of two police officers. Now, New York police unions and the widow of one of the slain officers are challenging the decision in court.
Victoria Law Feb 26, 2019
Jason Van Dyke’s sentence for the 2014 murder of Laquan McDonald is approximately half the average sentence for a person convicted of second-degree murder in Cook County, Illinois.
Rob Arthur Feb 25, 2019
Senate Bill 1421 requires law enforcement agencies to make public investigative records of officer-involved shootings and uses of force resulting in great bodily harm. But law enforcement unions argue that the law threatens the privacy of their members.
Darwin BondGraham Feb 20, 2019
Josie and Clint talk to Cook County's head prosecutor.
William J. Richards was cleared in the death of his wife. But he says he was the victim of medical neglect while he was behind bars, which led to a cancer diagnosis becoming terminal. Now he's suing.
Erika Stallings Feb 19, 2019
Josie and Clint discuss the power and pitfalls of crime reporting with Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post.
Colorado-based attorney and bail activist Elisabeth Epps was just released after serving a short jail stint related to a 2015 encounter with Aurora Police. The experience gave her a new understanding of the experiences of the people she has bailed out.
Aaron Morrison Feb 12, 2019
A former Baltimore Police officer says it’s time for the department to stop wasteful, harmful marijuana arrests, especially after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that her office would not prosecute cases of possession.
Larry Smith Feb 11, 2019
In 1996, Michele Benjamin was sentenced to life without parole for killing a man who she said solicited her for sex and menaced her with a weapon in New Orleans. A Supreme Court decision led her to be re-sentenced to life with a chance at parole in 2016. Today, a parole hearing brings the possibility of freedom.
A Florida woman with substance use disorder allegedly brokered a drug sale that ended in a fatal overdose; she faces 15 years in prison.
Zachary A. Siegel Feb 05, 2019
California amended its felony murder law, which holds accomplices responsible for murder. But reform won’t reach a man sentenced to death in a deadly robbery—even though he was never accused of firing a shot.
Maura Ewing Feb 04, 2019
As Kamala Harris begins her presidential run, her move to block gender affirming surgery for an incarcerated transgender woman deserves scrutiny, especially as new cases highlighting the struggle for the rights of imprisoned trans women emerge.
Zoé Samudzi Jan 28, 2019
Los Angeles County’s jail system incarcerates tens of thousands of people at a multi-billion dollar cost. The communities most impacted by mass incarceration have had enough.
Under Pennsylvania’s drug delivery resulting in death statute, a man faces up to 40 years in prison for sharing heroin with a woman who overdosed.
Joshua Vaughn Jan 15, 2019
Prosecutors denounce bail reform efforts when people miss court dates, but ‘failure to appear’ rates obscure the fact that many who miss court aren’t on the run.
Prisoners in the state’s Regional Medical Units allege that they are being denied access to essential programs and services like law libraries.
Keri Blakinger Jan 08, 2019
The Boyd County Detention Center has been consumed in chaos, even as the DOJ investigates it. Now, the community is pinning hopes for reform on a new jailer.
Zachary A. Siegel Jan 02, 2019
A series of electoral victories signals a nationwide shift.
Daniel Nichanian Dec 24, 2018
But more than 1,100 others are still serving sentences that voters decided were too harsh.
Kira Lerner Dec 19, 2018
Advocates say victims are being pressured to sign ‘withdrawal’ forms to quickly close investigations and protect the department from legal liability.
Meg O'Connor Dec 17, 2018
Darius Jacob Taylor wasn’t in the state when a robbery he was allegedly involved with ended in murder. But because of the felony murder rule, he’s charged with criminal homicide and faces life imprisonment.
Joshua Vaughn Dec 13, 2018
Advocates say the city has dragged its feet on legislation meant to ensure transparency on the police practice, and that data released so far—from 2010 to 2016, nearly 82 percent of stops involved Black people—signals that it’s time to end stop-and-frisk entirely.
Ella Fassler Dec 03, 2018
Attorneys for a Honduran woman are suing over the widespread jailhouse practice of honoring ICE requests to hold incarcerated immigrants for pickup.
Georgia Woman Endured Arrest, Million-Dollar Bond, and Months of Jail Over ‘Meth’ That Was Actually Cotton Candy
A notoriously unreliable roadside drug test administered by Monroe County sheriff's deputies led to Dasha Fincher being charged with methamphetamine trafficking.
Lauren Gill Nov 27, 2018
In 2016 and 2017, more than 80 percent of children charged as adults by the Allegheny County district attorney were Black.
Even though it’s unlikely that they commit sexual assault at higher rates than other ethnic or racial groups, nearly one of every 100 Black men is on a sex offender registry, a rate double that of white men.
Debbie Nathan Nov 15, 2018
The city’s experiment with civil asset forfeiture was supposed to end, but the practices of its parking agency and some in state law enforcement suggest that police may be turning to other forms of property confiscation.
Ryan Briggs Nov 14, 2018
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins’s promise to decline to prosecute several offenses is a rejection of the punitive tradition of prosecutors and perhaps signals a new kind of reform that spurns criminal justice as a solution to public health problems.
Advocates say that Sheriff Donnie Harrison is unfit for a fifth term because of such abusive practices as well as his office's cooperation with ICE.
George Joseph Nov 02, 2018
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins seeks a fourth term as critics blast him for a record that includes poor jail conditions, in-custody suicides, and the deaths of two young people at the hands of his deputies.
Raven Rakia Oct 31, 2018
In Santa Clara County, incarcerated people, and a former undersheriff challenging six-term sheriff Laurie Smith, have turned conditions of confinement into a potent electoral issue.
Victoria Law Oct 29, 2018
Decision-making by prosecutors in such cases, says one attorney, ‘compounds, entrenches, and ultimately authorizes the initial act of violence by prosecuting the victim.’
Aviva Stahl Oct 24, 2018
Campus police forces have become more professionalized, but critics say they operate behind a veil of secrecy and often exceed their jurisdiction.
Ryan Briggs Oct 15, 2018
With Appeal contributor Katie Rose Quandt.
Adam H. Johnson Oct 04, 2018
Protesters blasting everything from punitive prosecutors to police brutality should be remembered for their role in upsetting the Windy City's political status quo.
Kelly Hayes Oct 02, 2018
A lawsuit brought by a Compton resident detailing an alleged beating by deputies is just one of nearly three dozen federal civil rights lawsuits alleging brutality and racial bias at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Since 2015, police in Adams County have taken dozens of reports of rape, yet charges were filed in just two cases.
Joshua Vaughn Sep 25, 2018
This fall, however, an initiative goes to voters that would change the law on deadly force by the police, which has led to no officer there being convicted of wrongfully killing someone in the line of duty in more than 30 years.
Mike Faulk Sep 20, 2018
With activist and scholar Danny Murillo.
Adam H. Johnson Sep 13, 2018
Jeffery Parker was shot to death by a police officer in his Huntsville home. A grand jury handed up an indictment for murder, but the mayor and City Council appear to be throwing their support behind the officer.
Lauren Gill Sep 10, 2018
Legislation in California would provide a direct route to resentencing, and a new tool for activists.
Kyle C. Barry Sep 07, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Landry has taken a number of extreme positions on policing and sentencing in response to reform.
Kira Lerner Sep 06, 2018
Jacqueline Smalls was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a boyfriend whose ‘hands were his weapons.’ She now joins the ranks of criminalized survivors seeking clemency from Governor Cuomo.
Victoria Law Sep 05, 2018
The state’s “theft of leased property” statute allows prosecutors to seek felony charges for Pennsylvanians who miss payments on rental items.
After Tuesday’s primary victories for reform candidates, defining a progressive agenda for prosecutors is more pressing than ever. Rashad Robinson joins Josie and Clint.
Now in its second week, a strike staged by prisoners over poor conditions, low wages, and other issues is resulting in consequences, including harsh conduct reports and placements in solitary confinement.
Raven Rakia Aug 31, 2018
The ‘plea fee’ stems from a state law passed in the 1980s and can cost nearly $200, depending on the county.
Joshua Vaughn Aug 29, 2018
Before Edgar Coker was exonerated in a rape case, he underwent therapy meant to prevent sexual reoffenses. Thousands of kids involved in sexual offenses are forced into therapies like “relapse prevention” that experts say are ineffective.
Joseph Darius Jaafari Aug 27, 2018
Jacqueline Dixon shot her husband to death in Alabama, "Stand Your Ground" state, after she said he charged at her. He had a history of domestic violence.
William C. Anderson Aug 23, 2018
After the Gun Trace Task Force scandal rocked the police department, plainclothes policing was spurned. But a recently resigned commissioner championed plainclothes units, a decision the department seems to be sticking with.
Larry Smith Aug 22, 2018
Instead of changing its conditions and practices, The Bureau of Prisons is simply moving a problem-plagued federal prison unit in Pennsylvania to Illinois.
Victoria Law Aug 21, 2018
Several candidates are vying to become Milwaukee Sheriff in the wake of Sheriff David Clarke's resignation last fall. But will they truly spurn his legacy of jail deaths and cooperation with ICE?
Raven Rakia Aug 10, 2018
His opponent in Tuesday’s primary helped establish new police accountability and court reforms in Ferguson after the police shooting of Michael Brown.
Amanda Sakuma Aug 06, 2018
In one Pennsylvania county, more than three times as many people on the registry were charged in 2016 with failing to follow registry requirements than were charged with a new sexual offense
Joshua Vaughn Aug 01, 2018
A podcast from The Appeal, featuring Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith III.
After Hearing Concerns about ICE, Texas Sheriff Ran Apparent Traffic Sting That Led to Deportation Proceedings
A community group met with the Bastrop County sheriff in an effort to build trust between the sheriff’s office and the immigrant community. Then, the sheriff ran a sting that led to more than one dozen arrestees being handed over to ICE.
Michael Arria Jul 31, 2018
Prosecutors on the "J20" case faced grave allegations of misconduct after withholding exculpatory evidence contained in videos from defense attorneys. But this is far from the first time that this office has found itself in hot water.
Catina Curley suffered physical abuse at the hands of her husband for more than a decade. When she turned a revolver on him, she was charged with murder and sentenced to life. Now, thanks to a court ruling, she has a chance at freedom.
Josie Duffy Rice Jul 27, 2018
Groups like the Loop and DanceSafe test drugs like Ecstasy and warn users of high dosages and adulterants, but federal legislation from the early 2000s has live music promoters wary of their brand of harm reduction.
Zachary A. Siegel Jul 25, 2018
Introducing a new podcast from The Appeal, featuring Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith III.
York County resident Aaron Hinds overdosed on heroin with a friend. The friend died, and Hinds now faces a 'drug delivery resulting in death' charge and a 40-year prison sentence.
Joshua Vaughn Jul 24, 2018
A onetime gang liaison for the Baltimore Police Department writes that its database is racist and error-ridden.
Larry Smith Jul 23, 2018
In jurisdictions across the country, people incarcerated before they've ever been convicted of a crime are charged a daily fee just for sitting in jail—and several courts have ruled that the practice is legal.
Steven Hale Jul 20, 2018
Legislation passed in Massachusetts and pending in California would set a minimum age for children to enter the juvenile justice system.
Jeremy Loudenback Jul 17, 2018
With William C. Anderson, journalist and co-author of As Black As Resistance.
Adam H. Johnson Jul 12, 2018
In overdose-wracked Franklin County, Pennsylvania, a small-time dealer is denied bail, while the number of drug induced homicide cases has skyrocketed.
Joshua Vaughn Jul 09, 2018
A Pennsylvania hate crime statute is being used by law enforcement to punish angry arrestees.
Joshua Vaughn Jun 28, 2018
As voters begin to realize that prosecutors in the world's most incarcerated nation may not be the best people to run the government, the era of the prosecutor politician could be on its way out.
With journalists Raven Rakia and Ashoka Jegroo.
Adam H. Johnson Jun 15, 2018
Alice Marie Johnson is free. Now it’s time to free thousands more prisoners with unjustly long sentences.
Kim Kardashian's successful campaign to free a 63-year-old grandmother serving a life sentence in a drug case is a reminder that we need to go big on clemency. A 52-year-old grandfather named Euka Wadlington, also doing life in a drug case, would be a great place to start.
Years after two landmark Supreme Court rulings, prosecutors in Louisiana are still overwhelmingly seeking life sentences for children.
Victoria Law Jun 13, 2018
The judge who sentenced Brock Turner brought much-needed compassion to the bench, says public defender Sajid Khan.
Paul DeBenedetto Jun 11, 2018
Walliris Velez thought the worst was behind her after she was slashed in a subway car, but then came an arrest and an attempted murder charge by the Bronx DA.
Across the state, most incumbents successfully fended off progressive challengers during the June 5 primary.
Max Rivlin-Nadler Jun 06, 2018
With Josie Duffy Rice, senior staff reporter at The Appeal.
Adam H. Johnson May 31, 2018
But the witness may have flipped again, leaving the future of the conviction up in the air.
Her former partner assaulted her in her home. When the police arrived, she was arrested and he walked free.
Emma Whitford Feb 26, 2018
For those of us who believe our “justice” system must be transformed, moments such as this one are a test of conviction.
A little-known New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision policy has limited access to books in at least nine prisons for years.
Rebecca McCray Jan 11, 2018
In Justice Today invited leading thinkers in criminal justice reform to answer the question, “2018 is the year….” This is what they said.
Philadelphia implemented the “focused deterrence” model of gang policing, which includes the promise of critical social services. The reality is much different.
Maura Ewing Dec 21, 2017
Faith Johnson’s recent indictment of a Mesquite police officer for shooting an innocent man follows years of work by community activists.
Anquan Boldin, DeAndre Levy, Tobias Harris, Anthony Tolliver, Stan Van Gundy
Public defenders in Charlotte say restrictions on communication hinder their ability to help jailed clients.
Jessica Brand Dec 14, 2017
Why Execution Numbers Continue To Fall Off A Cliff
Lee Kovarsky Dec 07, 2017
Jay-Z, Meek Mill Friends to 21,000 Concert Fans: Vote for Judges, Prosecutors, and Councilmen Who Want CJ Reform
“We have the power to replace these people.”
Maura Ewing Dec 05, 2017
Alameda County Superior Court reversed license suspensions for 54,000 people who were punished for their inability to pay fines.
Rebecca McCray Dec 04, 2017
Under District Attorney Steve Wolfson, prosecutors in Las Vegas have led the nation in new death sentences, repeatedly engaged in racist jury selection, and maintained a secret bank account to pay witnesses for their testimony in criminal cases.
Dec 01, 2017
State law makes it easier to throw Brown away than consider traumas youth face and offer them hope of rehabilitation.
Fifteen men had their tainted convictions vacated by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, but this isn’t the norm when it comes to prosecutors.
Rebecca McCray Nov 29, 2017
“Kiss your boyfriend goodbye.”
Carimah Townes Nov 27, 2017
The five states that have done away with commercial bond outlets still struggle with inequity when it comes to cash bail.
Rebecca McCray Nov 22, 2017
A new app seeks to liberate people from more than “liberal malaise.”
Rebecca McCray Nov 15, 2017
Free Meek Mill, Philly cops panic over their new DA, LAPD caught planting drugs, 14 year old boy killed on reservation
In Justice Roundup is my weekly debrief rounding up the justice news you need to know.
Shaun King Nov 14, 2017
The majority of people who face misdemeanor charges remain behind bars just because they are poor
Larry Hannan Oct 27, 2017
Will the state with the second highest incarceration rate get its act together?
The City Controller’s report calls on the DA’s office to “dismantle the current cash bail system”
Larry Hannan Oct 26, 2017
A law that results in disproportionate arrests and prosecutions of black and Latino New Yorkers will stand.
Alameda and Santa Clara County jail detainees round out the first week of a hunger strike for better conditions.
Rebecca McCray Oct 20, 2017
Criminal charges are absent from 85 percent of all forfeiture cases in the city.
A movement to oust Cyrus Vance gains steam.
Oct 19, 2017
A local solution to a national problem.
Memphis critic says Juvenile Court Judge’s resistance to reforms has ‘emasculated’ Department of Justice
Wendi C. Thomas Oct 05, 2017
The decision was unanimous.
Carimah Townes Sep 21, 2017
Activists in New York City are engaging in profound acts of resistance against over-policing in the subways. Politicians are listening, but are they really hearing them?
Jocelyn Simonson Aug 30, 2017
District attorneys want to keep an outdated system alive.
“You look like a cold-blooded monster.”
Rebecca McCray Jun 22, 2017