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Criminal (In)justice

Problems with police, prosecutors and courts have people asking: is our criminal justice system broken? University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris interviews the people who know the system best, and hears their best ideas for fixing it. Criminal (In)justice is an independent production created in partnership with 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station.
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Now displaying: 2016
Dec 13, 2016

As the Criminal Injustice team takes a break for the holidays, we take a moment to look back at some of our favorite episodes of the year and preview what's coming up in Season 3.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 29, 2016

The NAACP used the legal system to overcome "separate but equal," desegregate schools and public facilities, and bring some measure of equal justice to African Americans living under Jim Crow laws in the U.S. What role does this legendary organization have in the era of Black Lives Matter, and how would Thurgood Marshall feel about it all? LDF Litigation Director Christina Swarns weighs in.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 22, 2016

Stand Your Ground Laws say people can defend themselves using force, even deadly force, in any public place where they have a right to be. When they passed more than a decade ago, proponents promised we’d be safer from crime -- especially violence and murder.  

Dr. John Roman, a senior researcher at NORC-University of Chicago, tells us what the facts actually show.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 17, 2016

Can President Donald Trump order local law enforcement to practice stop-and-frisk policing? Criminal Injustice host David Harris weighs in.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 15, 2016

Do the legal rules for using deadly force, set by the Supreme Court in the 1980s, still make sense? Do they protect the officer and the public, or is it time to change how police make the decision to take a life? Author, expert and former officer David Klinger talks police-involved shootings, cell phone video and best practices for deescalation.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 11, 2016

What will the U.S. Department of Justice look like under President Trump? And how will its role in overseeing local law enforcement change? We unpack a few of the possible scenarios.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 8, 2016

When a sexual assault occurs, police encourage the victim to complete a “rape kit” – a standardized procedure to collect evidence needed to find and prosecute the assailant. But instead of rapid usage of this evidence, tens of thousands of the completed kits still sit in police warehouses – untested and waiting.

Dr. Kelly Walsh, forensic scientist at the Urban Institute, helps us understand what's behind the huge failure and what we need to do about it.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 2, 2016

Host David Harris takes a deep dive on recent SCOTUS cases that grapple with the role of race in criminal justice.

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Nov 1, 2016

When police officers get into deep trouble, we think their law enforcement careers end. But some of them resign before they’re canned, and then move on to serve – and create new and bigger problems -- in other police departments.

Professor Roger Goldman has been the top expert on the issue for years.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 27, 2016

The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently issued an apology for "historical injustices" against people of color by law enforcement officers. How significant is this statement, and how likely is it to influence police-community relations?

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 25, 2016

For years, probation has meant reporting to your agent, obeying conditions set by the court, drug testing, and eventually, you screw up and go back to jail.

Wayne McKenzie, general counsel to the New York City Department of Probation, thinks there's a better way.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 18, 2016

DNA exonerations have proven that some people confess to serious crimes they didn’t commit, even without physical abuse or mental illness. But why? Are police interrogation techniques to blame, and what can we do to make sure this stops happening? 

Guest Richard Leo is one of the world’s experts on police interrogation and false confessions.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 14, 2016

We can't know definitively whether Donald Trump's taped remarks about groping women refer to events that actually took place as described. But if they did... did the GOP presidential nominee commit sexual assault? The answer, under New York law, is unequivocally 'yes.'

[Note: this episode quotes directly from the Trump tape, and therefore includes language that may not be suitable for children.]

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 11, 2016

Since the mid 1980s, mandatory minimum drug sentences have served as the driving force behind the explosion in the federal prison population, and also the vast racial disproportionality in that population. A new documentary, Incarcerating US, released in September 2016, tells the story of how this happened, and the film features our guest, Eric Sterling.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 7, 2016

The fallout from recent police shootings has some questioning the value of body cameras as a check on improper use of force. But the technology can only be as helpful as the policy governing its use. Host David Harris breaks it down.

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Oct 4, 2016

Our vast criminal justice system forces us to think about big issues like fairness and safety. But what can we learn from a deep examination of a single case, in which we dive as far down as we can and learn every detail? We ask these questions of Serial host and co-producer Sarah Koenig, who regularly reports and produces stories for This American Life.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 29, 2016

There was a lot of talk about New York's controversial stop-and-frisk policy in Monday's presidential debate -- much of it incorrect. Republican nominee Donald Trump was called out for spreading misinformation, but he wasn't the only one who got something wrong.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 27, 2016

Police departments in the U.S. are under scrutiny like never before. Calls for change are the only constant. So how does a police chief lead a department in this climate? And what’s most important as we look forward, two years after Ferguson?

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay came to the job in 2014 with 30 years of experience. He's trained police for leadership roles and talks to us about the challenges of one of the toughest jobs imaginable: building and leading a 21st century police department.

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Sep 22, 2016

A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice projects an uptick in U.S. murder rates by the end of 2016. But, as host David Harris cautions, the data paint an incomplete picture of a complicated situation. 

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 20, 2016

We see it over and over: police officers confront a person in the throes of mental illness. Some of these people may be dangerous; most are not violent, but they are confused, disturbed, and not acting rationally. Police officers are trained for a different job: detecting and preventing crime and disorder, and too often, things go terribly wrong, resulting in violence and even the death of a person with a mental illness. 

There’s a new way to deal with this chronic problem: training for police officers using the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) approach.

Master Police Officer Patricia Poloka of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police explains more.

Find us online at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 16, 2016

In a followup to our first episode on the promise and pitfalls of police-worn body cameras, we look at some of the unexpected problems that have arisen in cities that have adopted the technology over the last year.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 13, 2016

The prosecutor sits in a powerful position in the American criminal justice system, deciding who to charge and with what, and wielding significant discretion.

Some prosecutors use this power to focus narrowly on crime, but San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon uses his office to attempt to better the system, increase public safety, and make his city a stronger community.

He explains “Neighborhood Courts” and the merits of a “Behavioral Health Justice Center.”

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 6, 2016

The U.S. is the land of due process and constitutional rights. So how do police get the right to seize the property of citizens without criminal convictions, often without even criminal charges? The answer is civil asset forfeiture: an old tool designed to take away the ill-gotten gains of big-time criminals – but it’s morphed into a way for police departments to seize money and property from regular people and keep it to fund their own operations.

Guest Angela Erickson is with the Institute for Justice.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 31, 2016

An addendum to our recent episode on elected prosecutors and the political entanglements they face: Host David Harris shares news of a $3 million campaign funded by financier George Soros to unseat district attorneys in six states.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 30, 2016

In state legal systems, elected county prosecutors decide who gets tried and on what charges. With this great power, are there any limits? With controversy surrounding the investigation of police misconduct in so many cities, should local prosecutors be the ones deciding whether to charge police officers?

Stephen Zappala serves as the elected district attorney of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which includes the city of Pittsburgh and over 100 other municipalities.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

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