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Posts tagged "criminal justice reform"

California just reformed its bail system

Should people be locked up for being unable to pay bail? More than 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that was unconstitutional. Bail is meant to incentivize people to show up at their court dates. But as we mentioned in a recent blog post, nearly half a million Americans are currently locked up awaiting trial, simply because they can't afford bail.

American Bar Assn issues guidelines on ending debtor's prisons

Over 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people who cannot afford their court fees or fines should never be locked up for their inability to pay. Yet across the country, nearly half a million people sit in jail awaiting trial -- often simply because they can't afford bail.

Is data-driven policing just tech-based stereotyping?

With constant calls for police to stop racial profiling, law enforcement agencies want concrete, race-neutral information to help them target people based on their behavior alone. Many officers believe that a small number of people are responsible for the majority of non-drug street crime. Identifying those people could be crucial to keeping crime down.

Why crime and punishment can be a bad match

Proponents of longer prison sentences argue they accomplish multiple objectives, including properly punishing a person who commits a crime, making it safer for the rest of society and serving as a deterrent to others who may commit similar crimes.

Justice reform trend visible in district attorney primaries

District attorneys are among the most influential actors in the criminal justice system. They decide where to focus prosecutorial resources. They determine whether to charge the most serious provable offense or lesser offenses. They choose whether to stack charges, and whether to choose charges carrying harsh, mandatory minimum sentences. They decide what to offer in plea negotiations, and whether to threaten additional charges against uncooperative defendants.

Less time for drug crimes cuts criminal justice race disparities

An unfortunate fact about our criminal justice system is that minorities are frequently sentenced to more time for the same crimes as whites. In the U.S., African-Americans, for example, make up 13.3 percent of the population but account for 38 percent of people incarcerated in state prisons, according to federal data.

Examining racial disparities in sentencing and plea bargaining

In many ways, news that disparities exist in the U.S. criminal justice system based on race evoke thoughts of Captain Renault, Claude Rains' character in "Casablanca," shutting down Rick's Café and exclaiming, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

Faith, advocacy groups seek independent review of Milwaukee PD

Recently, an array of faith-based, civil rights and other advocacy organizations announced they are seeking an independent review of the Milwaukee Police Department's policing practices. Milwaukee is far from immune to the nationwide debate brought up by instances of what appear to be excessive force used against unarmed, typically African-American defendants. At stake is the public's trust in the police force and even the justice system.

Fourth of July: How you can improve our ailing criminal justice system

As we celebrate our nation's Independence Day,  it's appropriate to reflect not only on that which makes us proud to be Americans, but also on how we can hand down to our children and grandchildren a system of justice that honors the Founding Fathers and the generations of patriots who followed them.  We have much work to do, because at this time in our history the United States' criminal justice system is broken.  I provide a close examination of many of the problems in my book, "Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America's Broken System" (Harper 2017), but I also believe we can fix what is ailing.

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