Criminal Justice

Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Its Poorest Residents

Maine is the only state in the country with no public defender system. Instead, legal services for the poor are left to private attorneys, who face disproportionately high amounts of discipline, and an office that doesn’t supervise them.

Florida AG Calls for Probe of Push to Help People Vote by Paying Off Criminal Debts

After Mike Bloomberg raised $16 million to help people with criminal records vote in the state, some officials said the billionaire is “buying votes” for Joe Biden.

Plea Bargaining Needs to be More Transparent, Report Argues

Widespread plea bargaining in the criminal justice system may be fueling racial inequities and leading innocent people to plead guilty, says a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice.

Millions Raised to Pay off Debts so Floridians with Criminal Records Can Vote

The money, partially raised by Mike Bloomberg, will go towards paying off the court fines and fees of thousands of people with criminal records, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.

CDC Pulls Updated Guidance on Coronavirus Spread, Saying it was Posted By Mistake

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Barges came ashore during Florida hurricane ... Maryland lab stopped using coronavirus tests acquired by governor after false positives ... Pennsylvania inmate finds noose in bed.

California Opens a Path to Professional Firefighting for Formerly Incarcerated People

In California, many wildfires are fought by incarcerated people trained to be firefighters. Their criminal records barred them from continuing in the field after release—until now.

More People With Felony Convictions Can Vote, but Roadblocks Remain

Since 2016, at least nine states have restored voting rights to some people with felonies.

Investigators Found Alabama’s Prisons Are Plagued by Rampant Violence. Is Sentencing Reform the Answer?

The Justice Department says much of the abuse in the state’s prisons stems from overcrowding. Advocates say overcrowding is caused by laws that result in harsh prison sentences that are out of sync with the rest of the country.

The Legal Protections Shielding Police Taken Up By State Legislatures

With federal action on the issue looking unlikely, state legislators are considering proposals that would eliminate or limit the scope of qualified immunity for police officers.

Progressive Prosecutors Push for Reform in Response to Protests

Some say that the current moment has taught them the need for a thorough examination of the “historic impact of harmful policies” on certain communities.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Under New Scrutiny Amid Calls for Police Reform

But with the economic instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic, some worry law enforcement and prosecutors could actually step up efforts to seize criminal defendants' property.

Policing Protests Propel Marijuana Decriminalization Efforts

Reducing marijuana penalties might reduce interactions with police.

Court Strikes Down Restrictions on Pandemic Aid for Small Business Owners with Criminal Records

The Small Business Administration has changed the rules following a lawsuit from small business owners with criminal records.

In Many Cities, Police Only Solve a Portion of Murder Cases. What Happens if We Defund Them?

Homicide clearance rates in cities across the country are abysmal. Experts say solving more murders would involve increased resources and improved community relations.

Power to Rework Criticized Police Contracts Lies With Elected Leaders

In the wake of protests over police brutality, new attention is being focused on police unions and their contracts, known to stymie reforms. Will mayors and city council members force changes?

Small Business Owners with Criminal Records Sue Over Pandemic Aid Restrictions

Many small business owners with criminal records were shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to keep employees on payrolls during coronavirus lockdowns.

Some Cities Decline to Prosecute Arrested Protesters

Prosecutors in large and small cities alike are saying they won’t press charges against peaceful protesters arrested for nonviolent offenses.

Stop Training Police Like They’re Joining the Military

COMMENTARY | If policing is to change, the spotlight must turn toward police academies, where new recruits are first inculcated into the folkways of their profession.

Cities Respond to ‘8 Can’t Wait’ Campaign

The campaign calls for police departments to make changes in how officers use force. Some activists say they aren’t enough.

Majority of Minneapolis City Council Vows to Dismantle City’s Police Force

A veto-proof majority of the municipal legislative body said that they will dismantle the police department and reinvest their budget into community-led public safety programs. But many key details have yet to emerge.