We’re celebrating 4/20 by tackling some popular myths about marijuana and the criminal legal system.
Katie Jane Fernelius Apr 20, 2022
Prosecutors across the country have begun declining low-level cases in an effort to reduce racial inequity and to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joshua Vaughn Apr 12, 2021
The New York governor has released a plan to legalize marijuana, months after voters in the Garden State approved legalization in November. Advocates say the pressure could have ripple effects regionally.
Joshua Vaughn Jan 26, 2021
Efforts to address the harms of police violence and incarceration must consider the drug war, activists and treatment professionals note, including the punitive models of treatment.
Elizabeth Brico Sep 08, 2020
The review follows an investigation by The Appeal and Spotlight PA, which found that troopers were using minor traffic stops to illegally detain and search motorists along highways.
Joshua Vaughn Sep 03, 2020
A review of five years of cases that arose from traffic stops in the south-central region of the state shows that police used underhand tactics to justify holding and searching drivers illegally.
Jacklean Davis Was The First Black Woman To Serve As a Homicide Detective in New Orleans. Did A Now Disbarred Prosecutor Bring About Her Fall?
In the 1990s, Davis was a policing superstar, hailed as the best crime solver the Crescent City had ever seen. But a dispute over a paid detail at a festival turned into a major federal case against her, brought by a prosecutor involved whose conduct in other cases was called ‘grotesque.’
Ethan Brown Jul 01, 2020
Social distancing orders are a necessity, but they create a host of new problems for people in treatment for substance use disorders.
Alice Markham-Cantor Mar 27, 2020
Rhode Island prosecutors charged nine people with felony distribution of the addiction treatment drug. Reform prosecutors in other states are declining such charges and instead encouraging access to the drug.
In Travis County, thousands of people continue to be prosecuted for low-level drug possession charges that reform-minded district attorneys elsewhere have committed to dropping.
Kira Lerner Mar 02, 2020
The Democratic candidate also pledged to expunge prior criminal convictions for marijuana and invest in the communities most affected by the war on drugs.
Joshua Vaughn Feb 23, 2020
Spotlights like this one provide original commentary and analysis on pressing criminal justice issues of the day. You can read them each day in our newsletter, The Daily Appeal. In 2014, Morgan Godvin’s best friend, Justin DeLong, experienced a fatal drug overdose. She had sold him the heroin he used. The next night, police officers raided […]
Vaidya Gullapalli Dec 20, 2019
In 2017, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala prosecuted more than 1,700 low-level drug possession cases. More than $2 million in court-imposed debt was levied on people who were charged in these cases.
Joshua Vaughn Sep 18, 2019
In a rare case of local media nuance, a Boston TV news station provided a humane and health-focused segment on safe drug use.
Adam H. Johnson Sep 17, 2019
Sensational and false news reports about the drug are pushing lawmakers to enact harmful policies.
Thanks to the diligence of one assistant state attorney, 119 cases were thrown out and the officer is under state investigation.
Katie Rose Quandt Jun 17, 2019
An autopsy blamed the sleeping situation, but forensic experts aren’t so sure. And the same Ohio county just charged another mom in a similar case.
Cassi Feldman May 28, 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
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
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
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
A 22-year-old woman overdosed and died in jail. A 24-year-old faces first-degree murder charges. Did the system fail them both?
Tana Ganeva Mar 08, 2019
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.
John Pfaff Nov 14, 2018
In May 2016, 26-year-old Caleb Smith was prepping for medical school entry exams, and ordered what he thought was Adderall off the internet to help him study. After the package arrived at his home in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, his girlfriend, 26-year-old Amanda Leach, asked to try some. Smith obliged, and days later, Leach was found dead […]
After Pittsburgh Decriminalizes Pot, Black People Are Still Disproportionately Charged With Possession
About 51 percent of the people charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana in Allegheny County are Black.
Joshua Vaughn Oct 03, 2018
Local advocates are struggling with a new immigration memo that makes it more difficult to support these survivors.
Melissa Gira Grant Aug 22, 2018
A bill introduced in the state would require all chronic pain patients to enter into an agreement with their doctor before being prescribed opioid medication for the first time.
Joshua Vaughn Aug 17, 2018
Public health advocates are concerned that ‘Kristen’s Law,’ meant to punish drug dealers, will criminalize users and fail to stem the opioid crisis.
In New York, A Harm-Reduction Organization Is Leveraging Participatory Defense To Empower Its Clients
Grassroots group VOCAL-NY is teaching people with substance use disorder how to avoid getting ensnared in the criminal justice system.
Christopher Moraff Aug 09, 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
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
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 new paper argues that President Johnson’s 1967 Commission on Law Enforcement’s report on the subject was “decades ahead of its time.”
Zachary A. Siegel Jun 04, 2018
In the ‘fentanyl’ bust at a ‘narcotics house,’ no opioids were seized at all.
George Joseph May 30, 2018
On April 9, a Florida public defender persuaded a judge to drop a first-degree murder case against his client related to a fentanyl overdose last fall. The case involves Christopher Toro, 30, who is accused of selling illicit fentanyl that resulted in the overdose death of 32-year-old Alfonso Pagan in September 2017. Seminole County prosecutors […]
Zachary A. Siegel Apr 19, 2018
In August 2017, 29-year-old Richard Gaworecki of Union, New York trembled as a Johnson City Village Court judge read charges that included selling heroin that led to the death of Nicholas McKiernan, 26, that July. About one month later, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell, assisted by his first ever “overdose investigator,” upgraded Gaworecki’s charges […]
Zachary A. Siegel Mar 23, 2018
I love New York. It’s my favorite city in the world. I live and work here by choice. We get a lot of things right. Every day I walk down the street or hop on the subway, I am reminded that I am a citizen of a very big, incredibly diverse world. But our progressive […]
Shaun King Mar 20, 2018
Local activists are set to gather at New York’s City Hall today, urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to end his silence on the idea of the city opening a supervised injection facility, a medical setting for safely injecting drugs. Organized by VOCAL-NY, a nonprofit grassroots organization, the coalition of activists and drug users are calling out […]
Zachary A. Siegel Feb 27, 2018