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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: 2017
Dec 26, 2017

Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Jan. 9, 2018. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite past episodes. This episode originally appeared Oct. 17, 2017. 

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Gun violence kills thousands of Americans every year. It carries massive consequences in lives lost, injuries and medical treatment, but what about the economic cost – in jobs, businesses and community development? How can we measure the economic opportunity costs of gun violence?

Dr. Yasemin Irvin-Erickson is a senior researcher at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center.

Dec 19, 2017

Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Jan. 9, 2018. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite past episodes. This episode originally appeared June 27, 2017. 

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Police leadership must create a strong relationship between officers in the department and the communities they serve, but in the past, the same department may have participated in or enforced racial discrimination.

That history can prevent healing and can make police reform a nonstarter.

Chief Louis Dekmar of LaGrange, Georgia, says it was important for his department to acknowledge and apologize for the 1940 lynching of Austin Callaway, an incident that happened decades before he was born.

Dec 12, 2017

Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Jan. 9, 2018. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite past episodes. This episode originally appeared Sept. 26, 2017. 

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Police killings of unarmed African American men, stop-and-frisk policies and racially disproportionate prison populations have all been called symptoms of a broken criminal justice system.

Georgetown law professor and "Chokehold" author Paul Butler says no – this is exactly the way the system was designed to work.

Dec 5, 2017

Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Jan. 9, 2018. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite past episodes. This episode originally appeared Sept. 12, 2017. 

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Killings of unarmed black people by police have worsened historically troubled police-community relations. Until recently, little research existed that might help, but this has begun to change.

Philip Atiba Goff explains how social psychology can change American policing.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 28, 2017

Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Jan. 9, 2018. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite past episodes. This episode originally appeared Sept. 5, 2017. 

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After Ferguson, investigations revealed that the entire criminal justice system in St. Louis County – not just the police department – levied massive amounts of fines and fees on its poorest citizens in order to fund itself.  It was a wake-up call, but one organization was already there working on these very issues.

Thomas Harvey is the co-founder and executive director of Arch City Defenders.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 21, 2017

An important rule of legal ethics is the obligation to keep client information confidential. Lawyers say that rule is fundamental to the attorney client relationship, so clients can speak freely. But what happens when following that rule keep someone else – an innocent person – in prison? That’s what happened to Alton Logan, who sat in prison in Illinois for 26 years, even though two lawyer who represented the guilty man knew the truth all along.

We talk to Berl Falbaum, who helped Logan tell his story.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 18, 2017

Sexual abuse allegations against Alabama Judge Roy Moore have dealt a blow to the Republican candidate's Senate campaign. But could he also face criminal charges? 

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 14, 2017

When bad behavior by a police officer makes news, police often say that it’s just about one bad officer. But police departments seldom make the character of each officer the biggest factor in who they hire.

Sheriff Jack Serier of Ramsey County, Minnesota explains how his department made character-driven hiring the centerpiece of local reform.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 10, 2017

Many people are incredulous at the Louisiana Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal over the conviction of a man who asked police during his interrogation to "give me a lawyer, dog."

According to an opinion written by one of the justices, the request was too ambiguous to count as an invocation of the suspect's Miranda rights. David explains why that's actually correct -- for reasons entirely unrelated to the vernacular usage of "dog."

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 7, 2017

Three years after Ferguson, criminal justice reform has spurred discussion about police, courts and incarceration. PAC leader Whitney Tymas sees prosecutors as the key to fundamental change. She explains how her organization tackles local elections and what they’re trying to accomplish.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Nov 2, 2017

What do the indictments of two former Trump campaign aides, and the guilty plea entered by a third, tell us about the status of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation?

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 31, 2017

Since they began in the early 20th century, juvenile courts always treated kids differently – as people who were young enough to change. This began to change in the 1980s and 1990s when crime really spiked and we began putting some kids in adult courts and prisons – even giving life without parole and death penalties.

Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, explains what changed.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 26, 2017

There were high hopes for police body cameras in the wake of Ferguson. But three years later, have they lived up to the hype? A new study says no.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 24, 2017

Police have endured harsh public scrutiny over use of force cases, but prosecutors have also taken heat for choosing not to pursue cases when civilians are shot by police.

Older, traditional prosecutorial professional organizations, such as the National District Attorneys Association, have fought against any changes. But one group, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, has taken a more open approach, arguing for the importance of prosecutorial independence and transparency.

David LaBahn is the CEO and president for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 19, 2017

Harvey Weinstein is heard on tape admitting to criminal acts, and there's more than enough evidence to prosecute him. So why isn't he facing charges? And does this sound familiar?

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 17, 2017

Gun violence kills thousands of Americans every year. It carries massive consequences in lives lost, injuries and medical treatment, but what about the economic cost – in jobs, businesses and community development? How can we measure the economic opportunity costs of gun violence?

Dr. Yasemin Irvin-Erickson is a senior researcher at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 10, 2017

The death penalty – once a constant in U.S. criminal justice – has actually declined for more than a decade. In the last few years, it’s fallen dramatically, with death sentences handed down and executions way off. Why? And what does it mean for the rest of the criminal justice system?

Brandon Garrett is a law professor and author of End of Its Rope: How Killing the Death Penalty Can Revive Criminal Justice.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 5, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session this week with a major criminal justice case on the docket. In this bonus episode, a quick primer on what's at stake in Carpenter v. U.S.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Oct 3, 2017

The Chicago Police Department has a big problem with misconduct against civilians – both now and in the past. How much does this cost the city? What do the patterns of misconduct tell us, and why has the city done almost nothing to address those patterns?  

Database journalist Jonah Newman collected over 900 misconduct payouts over six years for the Chicago Reporter.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 28, 2017

Updates on a pair of stories we've covered in the last year: Lawyers Behaving Badly alumnus Roy Moore becomes Alabama's GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, and a D.C. court ruling puts new limits on police use of "Stingray" surveillance technology (see episode 48).

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 26, 2017

Police killings of unarmed African American men, stop-and-frisk policies and racially disproportionate prison populations have all been called symptoms of a broken criminal justice system.

Georgetown law professor and "Chokehold" author Paul Butler says no – this is exactly the way the system was designed to work.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 23, 2017

The acquittal of a St. Louis police officer charged with shooting a civilian has raised the question: why wasn't the case heard by a jury? David explains why police facing trial often opt to be tried by a judge.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 19, 2017

Mass incarceration in the U.S. created crisis conditions in prisons everywhere, and modern prison systems now have to address much more than just locking inmates up. 

State Corrections Secretary John Wetzel explains the unique challenges of housing Pennsylvania's inmate population, and what his team does to get them ready for life on the outside.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 15, 2017

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is teaming up with the New York Attorney General's office. What does it mean for the investigation into the Trump White House's Russia connection?

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

Sep 12, 2017

Killings of unarmed black people by police have worsened historically troubled police-community relations. Until recently, little research existed that might help, but this has begun to change.

Philip Atiba Goff explains how social psychology can change American policing.

Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com.

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