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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: 2019
Jun 25, 2019

Criminal Injustice returns with new episodes on July 2, 2019. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite interviews. This episode originally appeared February 5, 2019.

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Chicago has seen police scandals for decades -- from torturing suspects into confessions to the Laquan McDonald murder and coverup. 

James Kalven has combined journalism and human rights work to spur police reform. Has it worked? And what lies ahead for a city awash in homicides and distrust of police?

Jun 18, 2019

Criminal Injustice returns with new episodes on July 2, 2019. Until then, we're reposting some of our favorite interviews. This episode originally appeared January 22, 2019.

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Black Americans say they often experience difficulty with police that whites don't experience: extra scrutiny, harassment, profiling, even violence. Police say they have a difficult job that others just don't understand. What's it like to be both black and a police officer?

Matthew Horace is a former officer and the co-author of a fascinating memoir that explores this dynamic, The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement.

Jun 11, 2019

As we wrap up season 6 and pause for a quick summer break, some exciting news: Criminal Injustice returns in July as part of the Pittsburgh-based Postindustrial Media network. It's the first of several big changes you'll be hearing in the months ahead, and producer Josh Raulerson is in studio to help unpack the agenda.

We leave you with Dave's May 8 appearance on 90.5 WESA's The Confluence, discussing a recent federal court ruling on the right of prisoners to receive treatment for opioid addiction.

Jun 7, 2019

A federal judge says Seattle's new contract with police puts the city out of compliance with a 2012 consent that was supposed to make officers more accountable for use of force. We'll be watching this one closely.

Jun 4, 2019

$17 million in grants from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation seek to refocus attention on an area of criminal justice reform that's been largely overlooked in the push to end mass incarceration: conditions inside prisons. 

Small, Safe, and Humane: A Vision for Prison Reform

Jun 1, 2019

A dystopian scene in London, where police are deploying facial recognition cameras on streets and issuing citations to passersby who don't consent to be scanned. Is this our future?

Fines And Facial Recognition - BBC Click

May 28, 2019

In the last five years, we’ve seen case after case of police
killing unarmed civilians – even people running away.
Usually, officers do not face charges; when they do, juries
often acquit them. Does the law governing police use of
force favor police?

Our guest, Professor Cynthia Lee, is one
of the leading thinkers on use of force law, and she’ll
discuss proposed changes.

May 24, 2019

Hundreds of former federal prosecutors are now on record that -- but for the Justice Department's policy against prosecuting sitting presidents -- the Mueller report contains ample evidence to bring obstruction charges against Donald Trump.

May 21, 2019

In the metropolitan heart of the tech industry, San Francisco bars police and city agencies from using facial recognition software. The latest in a string of recent stories we've been following on evolving technologies of surveillance.

CI #36 Alvaro Bedoya

CI #49 Barry Friedman

 

May 18, 2019

Apropos of our recent episode on ALPRs, Holly from Idaho asks: what can we, as citizens, do about these surveillance systems that seem to be popping up in the digital world?

May 14, 2019

Mass incarceration remains the hallmark of the US justice system, as it has been for decades. In the last ten years, in some states, we see less jail in low-level cases and more electronic monitoring. But does this just trade one form of custody for another?

Our guest, law professor Chaz Arnett, reveals the new world of e-carceration. He’s the author of “Virtual Shackles: Electronic Surveillance and the Adultification of Juvenile Courts” and "From Decarceration to E-carceration."

May 10, 2019

A federal court ruling on the practice of marking tires with chalk to enforce parking ordinances delivers an unexpected reinterpretation of the Fourth Amendment.

May 5, 2019

Using ubiquitous traffic cameras that can read license plate numbers, cities are building automated surveillance networks that indiscriminately scoop up data on the movements of individual vehicles. When an Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) system sees a plate that matches one in a police database, officers are dispatched -- sometimes with guns drawn. These systems have shockingly high error rates. What could possibly go wrong?

Charlie Warzel, “When License-Plate Surveillance Goes Horribly Wrong”

Apr 30, 2019

The American criminal justice system is all about finding the bad guys, convicting them, and penalizing them -- often by sending them to prison. But what does that do to help victims restore themselves? Can we imagine a system not of criminal justice, but restorative justice?

Van Jones is a CNN contributor and host of The Redemption Project.

Apr 28, 2019

Where does U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr get off ordering immigration judges around? Turns out many federal officials commonly referred to as "judges" -- those appointed under Article I -- are actually employed by and accountable to federal agencies (in this case, the Justice Department).

Apr 24, 2019

Now that a redacted version of the full Mueller report is out, how do its contents stack up against initial reaction to A.G. Bill Barr's four-page summary? Strap in, there's a lot to cover.

Apr 16, 2019

American prosecutors have always been powerful figures in our justice system: they decide the charges, and offer the plea bargains. But our guest says they have become far too powerful – resulting in mass incarceration and the wrecking of human lives over trivial offenses.

Emily Bazelon, best-selling author and a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, says it’s time for this to change. She’s the author of “Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Criminal Justice and End Mass Incarceration.”

Apr 12, 2019

The City of Pittsburgh made national news by passing gun control legislation that's all but certain to trigger lawsuits under a state law that bars municipalities from regulating firearm ownership locally. Will it hold up in court?

Apr 9, 2019

Two very different views on prosecuting financial fraudsters and corporate criminals: Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says plausible deniability makes it all but impossible to go after high-level executives like those who caused the 2008 housing collapse and ensuing crises. Others, like journalist Jesse Eisinger and Bharara’s own SDNY predecessor (one James Comey), say effective deterrence means taking on tough cases even if there’s a risk of losing.

Apr 6, 2019

Reaction was swift and intense when news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded his investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. While Donald Trump takes a victory lap, both his opponents and his supporters are leaping to conclusions based on a four-page summary issued by AG William Barr. But until Mueller's full report is released, there's simply not enough information to properly characterize the investigation's outcome.

Apr 2, 2019

Jury service is THE way that members of the public participate in the criminal justice system. But who gets to serve? Are certain racial or ethnic groups excluded, and what’s the effect of these exclusions in the courtroom? An update on the groundbreaking “Jury Sunshine Project” from Professor Ronald Wright of Wake Forest University School of Law; he’s one of the co-leaders of the Jury Sunshine Project in North Carolina.

Mar 31, 2019

To mark the 100th episode of Criminal Injustice, Dave goes back to where the show began -- Pittsburgh's NPR station, 90.5 WESA -- for a chat with Kevin Gavin, host of WESA's The Confluence.

Mar 29, 2019

As discussed recently on Criminal Injustice, California may soon revisit the "reasonable objective officer" standard for use of force by police. The story caught the attention of NPR's Martin Kaste, who called Dave up to ask how that would work. Their conversation turned into a March 12 story on All Things Considered. Hear their full, unedited interview here.

Mar 26, 2019

Michael Rosfeld, the former East Pittsburgh police officer seen on video shooting 17-year-old Antwon Rose in the back as he runs away, has been found not guilty of the unarmed teen's murder. While Friday's verdict angered many and surprised some, it's only the latest in a long string of cases demonstrating the near-impossibility, under current statute and case law, of successfully prosecuting police officers for homicide.

Mar 23, 2019

Far from the most sordid detail of the R. Kelly case, but pretty messed up: Kelly's (apparently terminally ill) former defense attorney now says the singer was "guilty as hell" on child porn charges.

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