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Posts tagged "Criminal Defense"

Are police gang databases accurate? What happens if they're not?

ProPublica Illinois, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that does investigative journalism, recently published an article about inaccuracies in Chicago's gang database. Police and law enforcement officials routinely cite the gang database when investigating and prosecuting crimes. The database is also used for immigration enforcement, criminal background checks and other purposes.

Can data from your Amazon Alexa be used against you in court?

An estimated eight million people use Amazon's Alexa, the virtual assistant that can make lists, set timers, dial phone calls and even tell jokes. Depending on your setup, it can turn off your lights, set your home security system, and turn on and tune your TV. She recognizes different voices and can key various activities and lists to individuals based on their voices. She can keep track of most everything you're up to, and she's always listening.

Will new federal policy address unscientific forensic testimony?

Studies have shown that invalid or inaccurate forensic science is a factor in almost half of wrongful convictions. In the approximately 354 cases where DNA later exonerated an Innocence Project client, poor forensic science contributed to most of the underlying convictions.

ACLU: Milwaukee's own data shows illegal race-based police stops

Two criminal justice experts have cast serious doubt on the legality of many police activities in Milwaukee. Just as many African-Americans and Latinos have claimed for years, the evidence shows that they and their neighborhoods are being unfairly targeted for police stops and pat-down searches -- often with no legal basis.

AG Sessions opposes bipartisan sentencing reform bill

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just made his opposition to a bipartisan sentencing reform bill clear. Calling the legislation a "grave error," he said the proposed changes would reduce the sentences of "a highly dangerous cohort of criminals."

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.

Should DNA probabilistic genotyping be used against defendants?

When a crime scene sample has evidence of more than one individual crime labs attempt to assign the results to particular individuals.  When there are DNA alleles from only two people the process is usually straightforward -- there is a "major contributor" and "minor contributor" identified.  The problem becomes more complicated if there is evidence of DNA from three or more persons in the mixture.  Until recently, many labs reported results as "inconclusive" because separating the mixture of DNA was too subjective.  Then several software companies developed algorithms that could assign the DNA profiles to particular individuals by using statistical probabilities.  This method of "probablistic genotyping" has been controversial among scientists in the field and forced courts to confront much new evidence.

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!"

Be careful to raise no new issues at your probation hearings

If you end up being convicted of a crime, there's a fair chance that part of your sentence will involve probation. Probation allows you to be released into the community instead of serving all of your sentence in jail -- but you must meet certain conditions. If you fail to meet any of the conditions, your probation could be extended or revoked.

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