Nearly any criminal defense attorney would tell you to always have an attorney by your side if you have been detained and are being questioned by police. Too many suspects believe that because they are innocent and have nothing to hide, they also have nothing to fear. Sadly, this isn't always true.
We have previously written about the disturbing experiences many juveniles have when forced to interact with the criminal justice system. Here in Wisconsin and across the country, juvenile offenders accused of serious crimes often receive the same regard and same sentences as adult offenders.
In recent months, we have discussed the often-ignored problem of racism within the criminal justice system. Events like those in Ferguson, Missouri have reminded us that many communities in the United States have a strained relationship with law enforcement agencies, and those communities are often predominantly low-income and African-American.
We have previously written about the many problems in our legal system that lead to wrongful conviction, as well as the difficulties that wrongfully convicted inmates often face after being exonerated. Wisconsin is among 30 states (plus Washington, D.C.) to offer compensation to wrongfully convicted individuals. But of these states, Wisconsin’s compensation is among the lowest offered and can be difficult to get.
Many believe that the pursuit of justice must be tempered with mercy. This is a difficult line to walk in the criminal justice system, because judges do not always know the motives of defendants or their capacity for reform. Moreover, courtrooms in many Wisconsin cities need to shuffle cases through quickly, leaving little time for discussion or explanation.
We have written many times in the past about the problem of wrongful
conviction in the United States. It happens a lot more often than most people
realize, and it happens here in Wisconsin as well as in other states.
As an adult, your idea of what constitutes an authority figure is probably more nuanced than it was when you were a kid. Children tend to view most adults as authority figures, including parents, teachers and police. As such, most children and teenagers probably don’t understand that the consequences of being interrogated by a police officer are much more significant than being grilled by a parent or teacher.
A couple weeks ago, we wrote about the unsettling truth that race continues to play a large role in the criminal justice system throughout Wisconsin. This is evident in the way that drug crimes are prosecuted, as African Americans make up a vastly disproportional percentage of drug crime defendants.
It’s no secret that kids sometimes do stupid things and inevitably get into trouble. Kids test their boundaries, and brain science has shown that impulse control and the ability to predict consequences are often hindered during the developmental teenage years.
We have previously written about the heightened focus on wrongful convictions in the United States. Groups like the Innocence Project have been working tirelessly in recent years to help individuals clear their name and have their convictions overturned. At the same time, studying what went wrong in these cases will hopefully help prosecutors prevent wrongful convictions in the future.