After Decades in Prison, Should Adults Convicted as Teens Get a Second Chance? A Growing Number of State Laws Say Yes
Second in a three-part series on a teenager with a tumultuous childhood who was sent to die in prison, and where his life would lead. The following narrative was compiled from interviews and court records.
Massachusetts Could Loosen Life Without Parole Restrictions For Young People
Justices in the state’s highest court are weighing whether it is unconstitutional to sentence people convicted of murder and aged 18 to 20 to life without parole.
How Chesa Boudin Is Pursuing His Promise to Reduce Incarceration
After more than a year in office—and despite pushback—the San Francisco DA’s policies have kept people out of jails and prisons.
Former Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson’s fiery dissents on mass incarceration and sentencing in America’s most carceral state garnered international attention. But the rise of the first Black woman on the court was characterized by one battle after another with the Deep South’s white power structure.
D.C. May Give People Convicted As Young Adults A Chance At Resentencing
The D.C. Council is set to vote on a bill aimed at giving people who committed serious crimes before their 25th birthday an opportunity to petition a judge for resentencing.
U.S. Executes Keith Dwayne Nelson, The Fifth Federal Prisoner Put To Death This Year
Nelson’s attorneys had sought to have his death sentence reversed, citing critical errors by his original trial attorneys.
Racial Disparity Among Prosecutors and Trial Judges Translates to Unequal Justice, Activists Say
Studies show that 95 percent of the nation’s prosecutors are white and that the lack of Black and brown representation in courts negatively affect outcomes for people of color.
Minors Sentenced To Life Without Parole Deserve More Than Scare Tactics When Transitioning To Adult Prisons
If the justice system’s goal is to produce healthy, safe, and productive members of society, then it must begin with support from corrections staff and healthy relationships with peers.
A 13-Year-Old Shot and Killed His Brother. Pennsylvania Police Charged Him as an Adult.
State law requires all murder charges be automatically filed in adult court, regardless of age.
Remaking Our Legal System With More Compassion And Humanity Is Necessary And Urgent Work
The Appeal and Oregon Justice Resource Center announce “Left Behind,” firsthand accounts of growing-up in prison from individuals sentenced as children.
High Cost Of Prison Diversion Programs Leaves ‘Too Many People’ Imprisoned in Alabama
A survey of roughly 1,000 people found that 1 in 5 had been turned down for a diversion program because they couldn’t afford the costs of drug tests and monitoring devices.
A New York Law Could Reduce Sentences for Domestic Violence Survivors. Why Are Judges Reluctant to Apply It?
The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act allows judges to consider shorter sentences, as well as non-prison sentences, if abuse factored significantly in the crime.
Louisiana Continues to Imprison People Past Their Release Dates
A Department of Corrections official knew the extrajudicial practice was going on but little has been done to correct it.
Life and Loss: A Son Sentenced to Die in a Pennsylvania Prison
An Appeal documentary on life without the possibility of parole—and its impact on loved ones—in the state.
The Appeal Podcast: Documenting the Death Penalty
With Jordan Smith and Liliana Segura of The Intercept.
Cancer Patient’s Prison Sentence Is A Glaring Outlier in a Pennsylvania County
A review of charging dockets in Lebanon County shows Ashley Menser was the only person charged with felony retail theft in 2018 to receive a 7-year maximum sentence.
Five Jurists Said Donnie Lance Deserved a New Sentence. Georgia Executed Him Anyway.
Three Supreme Court justices and others said competent counsel could have saved his life.
Mississippi Man Given Extreme 12-Year Sentence For Having A Cell Phone In Jail Asks For Rehearing
The state Supreme Court erred this month when it failed to invalidate Willie Nash’s sentence as cruel and unusual punishment, his attorneys argue.
Arizona’s Incarcerated Firefighters Push for Legislation That Recognizes Their Labor By Reducing Their Sentences
Unlike other states, Arizona offers minimal early release credits for the prisoners it sends to fight its wildfires.
Man Spared From Execution After Rare Clemency Grant
It’s the first time since 2014 that someone on Georgia’s death row has been granted clemency.
How Dubious Science Helped Put A New Jersey Woman In Prison For Killing A Baby In Her Care
The state said Michelle Heale shook the baby to death, but some experts say her conviction was based on debunked science.
The Media’s Misguided Backlash Against Criminal Justice Reforms in D.C. and New York
Many liberals support reform in theory. But when unpopular decisions need to be made, it’s back to the 1990s “Tough on Crime” playbook.
For Many Prisoners, Mississippi’s Habitual Offender Laws Are Like ‘Death Sentences’
One man, Paul Houser, is serving 60 years on a drug conviction for purchasing cold medicine and batteries. He’s one of 2,600 people incarcerated as a result of the state’s three strikes laws.
Misplaced Outrage Over Kentucky Governor’s Pardons Harms Criminal Justice Reform
Sensational headlines may score short-term partisan points, but long term they contribute to a toxic culture of Willie Hortonism.
The Supreme Court Ruled That Sentences Like Hers Are Unconstitutional. Prosecutors Are Fighting To Keep Her Incarcerated.
Prosecutor Jessica Cooper of Oakland County, Michigan, has aggressively pursued life without the possibility of parole for children, critics say. She recommended the sentence for Barbara Hernández, who at 16 was a ‘slave’ to an abusive boyfriend who drew her into a plan that ended in murder.
What Happens When Prison ‘Lifers’ Get A Chance At Healing And Redemption?
In California, a prison program run by people once sentenced to life shows how even the most serious offenders are more than the worst things they’ve done.
In Missouri, Public Defenders Push to Put Poor Defendants on Wait List in Attempt to Improve Their Legal Representation
Critics say the list, which would apply to defendants in St. Louis County, Missouri, would infringe on people’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.
North Carolina Judge Rules That Prosecuting 16-year-old As An Adult Violates His Constitutional Rights
Two years ago, the state passed ‘raise the age’ legislation that goes into effect in December. A judge’s decision regarding a teen charged in 2015 raises the possibility of relief for other young people charged since the law’s passage.
Pennsylvania’s Crime Victim Definition Leaves Out Communities Most Affected By Crime
The state’s narrow interpretation gives too much weight to voices that support a punitive criminal legal system, advocates say.
Missouri Executes Russell Bucklew Despite Threat of Botched Execution
His legal team had pushed for clemency, arguing that Bucklew’s previous attorneys mishandled his capital murder case.
A Historic Day May Mark The Beginning Of The End Of Death By Incarceration In Pennsylvania
This month, nine people received commutations from life sentences, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is calling for changes to the commutations process to give more people second chances.
DNA Testing Could Save This Texas Man’s Life. But Prosecutors Are Opposing It.
Rodney Reed, set to be executed on Nov. 20, is innocent of a rape and murder, his lawyers say, and untested evidence will prove it. But prosecutors have pushed back, arguing the evidence is contaminated.
This Louisiana Gulf War Veteran Is Serving Life For Selling $30 Worth Of Marijuana
Derek Harris awaits arguments in the state Supreme Court about the sentencing, which one judge called ‘unconscionable.’
Why Juries Need Expert Help Assessing Jailhouse Informants
Informants are highly motivated to lie. But jurors don’t always have the information or skills to discern the truth.
Missouri Is Set To Execute Russell Bucklew. His Lawyers Say His Case Was Mishandled.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his execution, which experts have said will be bloody and gruesome, does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. But problems with his case started long before that, his attorneys say.
Alabama Sex Offender Registry Is Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Teenagers, Lawsuit Argues
Young people convicted as adults face a ‘life sentence’ of registry restrictions, attorneys say.
In Third Debate, Democratic Presidential Candidates Condemn Mass Incarceration Without Naming Its Main Driver
Candidates offered reforms for people accused of low-level, nonviolent offenses, but more than half of U.S. prisoners have committed a violent crime.
Report Praises High School in Jail But Fails to Ask Why Kids Are Locked Up at All
A Pittsburgh public radio piece lacked critical reporting about the many problems with jailing children in adult facilities.
Hundreds of Alabama Prisoners See Opportunity For Freedom Delayed After Parole Hearings Canceled
The parole board failed to comply with a new law about notifying victims, the board’s director said.
Harris County D.A. Seeks Execution of Intellectually Disabled Man, Lawyer Says
Kim Ogg ran as a reform-minded district attorney candidate, but her office has sought two death warrants for Dexter Johnson, whose lawyer says cannot name everyday objects and has an IQ of 70.
New York Law Removes ‘Unnecessary’ Step for Children Charged With Felonies
16-year-olds won’t have to reappear in adult criminal court if they’re arrested when youth court isn’t in session.
He Entered Prison As a ‘Whiskerless Kid.’ Will Oregon Ever Let Him Out?
Despite supporting Oregon’s new juvenile justice law, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is still fighting to keep people in prison who received life sentences as minors.
‘You Don’t Own Me’
At 16, Larry Rosser was imprisoned for killing a woman who sexually and physically abused him. He served 22 years in the California prison system before being released in 2017, after parole commissioners became convinced he was a rehabilitated victim.
The Persistent History of Excluding Black Jurors in North Carolina
A statewide pattern of discrimination in jury selection has gone largely uncorrected, while lives remain in the balance, advocates say.
Sanders And Warren Just Released the Most Decarceral Criminal Justice Platforms Ever
The 2020 presidential candidates recently unveiled national criminal justice agendas that reimagine public safety and punishment.
An Alabama Man On Death Row Says He Is Innocent. Will He Get a New Trial?
In 1998, prosecutors failed to tell the defense that a key witness in Toforest Johnson’s capital murder trial would receive thousands of dollars in reward money for her testimony, Johnson’s attorneys say. Now a Birmingham judge must decide whether their argument has merit.
Sensationalist Tale of an Elderly Killer Feeds False Narrative
The New York Times’s coverage of the one-off case of a 77-year-old man omits key facts about how older adults are treated by our punitive legal system.
Sentenced to Life Without Parole at 17 and Denied Freedom at 52
Richard Kinder thought he would die in an Alabama prison until the Supreme Court ruled mandatory juvenile life without parole unconstitutional. But last year, despite a judge concluding there was “uncontradicted evidence” that Kinder had worked to rehabilitate himself, the state parole board refused him release.
In Queens D.A. Race, Criminal Justice Reform Is The Real Winner
Establishment candidate Melinda Katz declared a narrow victory in the New York City borough’s district attorney primary, but progressive Tiffany Cabán pushed the race to the left on issues like marijuana and sex work.
D.C. Shows Mercy For People Who Committed Crimes As Children, But Prosecutors Are Fighting Back
U.S. attorneys in D.C. have opposed the resentencing of all 14 people who have petitioned for early release under a local law.
The Appeal Podcast: The Risks of Risk Assessment
With Hannah Sassaman and Matt Henry
Chicago Cop’s Sentence For Killing A Black Teenager Is ‘Exceptionally Short’
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.
Bail Activist Jailed For Trying To Help When Cops Confronted Man In Mental Health Crisis
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.
Pennsylvania Case Challenges ‘Death by Incarceration’ for 18-year-olds
Recent Supreme Court rulings have led to a review of life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed at age 17 and younger, but attorneys for Avis Lee say there’s no reason to stop there.
Your Essential Criminal Justice Guide to Election Night
From sheriffs to bail to marijuana, and more—here’s what you need to know.
‘Will I Get Out Today?’
Louisiana is keeping people behind bars long after their sentences have expired, attorneys say.
New York Woman Imprisoned For Defending Herself From Abuser Seeks Mercy
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.
As National Prison Strike Continues, Incarcerated People Face Retaliation
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.
A New Rhode Island Law Allows For Life Sentences in Drug Overdoses
Public health advocates are concerned that ‘Kristen's Law,’ meant to punish drug dealers, will criminalize users and fail to stem the opioid crisis.
Will Governor Cuomo Give Roy Bolus a Second Chance?
Bolus is one of thousands of New Yorkers sentenced to life in prison who are waiting for the governor to keep his clemency promise.
US Attorney’s Office That Prosecuted Inauguration Day Protesters Has History of Misconduct Findings
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.
A Pennsylvania Man Survived An Overdose Only To Be Charged With Homicide
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.
Cuomo the Merciless
New York's Democratic governor has granted only a trickle of commutations, fewer than many of his Democratic and Republican predecessors.
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.
Louisiana’s Love Affair With Locking Up Kids For Life
Years after two landmark Supreme Court rulings, prosecutors in Louisiana are still overwhelmingly seeking life sentences for children.
As worthy cases for clemency from Cyntoia Brown to Calvin Bryant mount in Tennessee, advocates decry the fact that a Tennessee governor hasn't commuted a prison sentence since 2011.
Santa Clara County Public Defender Explains What Judge Persky’s Recall Means For His Clients
The judge who sentenced Brock Turner brought much-needed compassion to the bench, says public defender Sajid Khan.
The Sentencing of Larry Nassar Was Not ‘Transformative Justice.’ Here’s Why.
For those of us who believe our “justice” system must be transformed, moments such as this one are a test of conviction.
Houston Conviction and Death Sentence Goes to U.S. Supreme Court
Court watchers believe Justices will side with plaintiff
“It Is So Loud Inside My Head”
The words of a mentally ill man the state of Arkansas hopes to execute on November 9th
California’s district attorneys at odds with voters over criminal justice reform
District attorneys want to keep an outdated system alive.