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Posts tagged "Criminal Defense"

Does registering and banning people actually prevent crime?

Although we're not from New York City, we can agree that there is probably too much public lewdness and unwanted touching going on in the city's subways. Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to clean up public transit: banning "repeat and high-risk sexual offenders" from buses, trains and subways for three years.

Do pretrial risk assessment tools produce good results?

It's a travesty when people are stuck behind bars for months or even years before they have even been convicted of a crime. However, there are sometimes good reasons to deny a person bail, such as when they are an obvious flight risk or a clear danger to the community.

How could $145 million improve forensic science?

"I think we can safely say that bite mark evidence is just junk," says Michael Semanchik of the California Innocence Project. He speaks with some authority, as he has worked for many years on the exoneration of Bill Richards, who was falsely convicted of his wife's 1993 murder.

Three ways prosecutors use coercion in plea bargaining

Plea bargaining is a bedrock of our criminal justice system. Governments simply don't have the money to take every criminal defendant to trial. They rely on the fact that a large proportion of defendants will opt for a plea deal if it means less prison time.

Many cops believe they can use this tool to test people for lying

Scientifically, it's a pipe dream. It would be convenient if we could train law enforcement officers on how to tell if people are lying, but so far there is no way to do so. That doesn't stop people from trying, though.

Illinois moves to expunge low-level marijuana convictions

"We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis," said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement recently. The state has just legalized the possession of marijuana for personal recreational use. Medical marijuana is also legal in Illinois.

Don't put your faith in fingerprint matching 'experts'

It may be true that no two sets of fingerprints are alike, although there is no actual study showing that. Even if it is true, however, the process of matching fingerprints found at crime scenes to prints from other sources is messy. Most often, crime scene prints are partial or smudged, and there are plenty of prints that are thought common enough to match these.

Race gap in prisons is narrowing, but it's still too wide

The nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice recently released a report on the race gap in American prisons. The race gap is the degree to which minorities are incarcerated at a rate beyond their proportion in society. For example, even though there is no evidence that African-Americans are more prone to drug crimes than whites, in 2000 they were 15 times as likely to be convicted of state-level drug crimes.

Illinois taking emergency steps to end child isolation punishments

Governor J.B. Pritzker has directed the Illinois State Board of Education to take emergency action and stop schools from isolating children behind locked doors as punishment. The Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois published an investigation of the punishment, which may amount to torture.

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