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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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Criminal (In)justice
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Now displaying: August, 2016
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.

Aug 25, 2016

Less than a month after addressing the Republican National Convention, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff -- Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona -- could be facing criminal contempt charges in federal court.

David spoke with reporter Jude Joffe-Block of Phoenix public radio station KJZZ, who covered the story for NPR this week. On this bonus episode, we follow up that report with further analysis of an extraordinarily unusual situation.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 23, 2016

To get released before trial, most American courts require defendants to post bail money. If you can't pay, even if you're innocent, you'll have to wait for trial while still behind bars. Staying in jail awaiting trial damages lives and legal cases: people in custody lose jobs, housing, and property, and statistics show that they end up with longer sentences if they’re found guilty. And all of this costs taxpayers billions. But there's a better way.

Judge Truman Morrison of the District of Columbia Superior Court shows how courts can follow D.C.'s example and use a combination of non-financial conditions to make sure defendants show up for court and don’t get re-arrested while awaiting trial.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 16, 2016

A cautionary tale from our home state of Pennsylvania, where this week Attorney General Kathleen Kane was convicted of felony perjury for leaking secret grand jury documents to a newspaper and then trying to cover it up.

In this special #longread edition of Lawyers Behaving Badly, David explains how Pennsylvania's top prosecutor, once considered a rising star in state politics, came to face possible prison time herself. It's a long and complicated story with a pointed lesson: Don't, don't, DON'T leak grand jury material. (And if you do, definitely don't text about it.)

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 16, 2016

Pimps and sex traffickers have long been part of the dark side of the economy, but they now use the internet for their ugly business. And some of this involves trafficking underage girls for sex.

Our guest has pioneered an approach to meeting this challenge with a distinctively 21st-century solution: using algorithmic analysis on big data to identify and catch sex traffickers who operate online. Cara Jones is the chief operating officer of Marinus Analytics. At Marinus, she and co-founder Emily Kennedy have brought Traffic Jam, their analytic software, to law enforcement agencies, resulting in the arrests of internet pimps and traffickers, and the rescue of many young women.

Hear more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 9, 2016

The tattered system for supplying criminal defense services to the poor is a shambles. More than 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that persons charged with crimes must be provided with a defense lawyer if they are too poor to afford one, that promise has been broken. In countless places around the U.S., governments simply do not provide the resources for poor people charged with crimes to have a real defense. The result: defense lawyers with impossible caseloads struggling to meet the constitutional minimum standards for defense. It’s a national scandal, and yet year after year, state and local governments do too little – or nothing – to fix it.

Jonathan Rapping has an answer.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Aug 2, 2016

Portugal decriminalized the possession of ALL drugs in amounts sufficient for personal use – and gave the drug trade a completely public health perspective.

How does the system work? Has it reduced the toll of drug use and the criminal justice costs associated with it? We talk with Kellen Russoniello, Staff Attorney for Health and Drug Policy at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

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