Criminal Justice

America’s Rural-Jail-Death Problem

Every day, in small towns and cities across the country, thousands of people are booked into local jails, many for minor crimes. Some never come home.

There’s Only One State Where Falling Behind on Rent Could Mean Jail Time. That Could Change.

Only Arkansas permits criminal consequences for nonpayment of rent — and it has enforced the law during the pandemic. Now, after ProPublica investigated the practice, some legislators want to revoke the statute.

Justice Department Warns of Fake Unemployment Benefit Websites

It’s one more issue for jobless Americans and state workforce agencies to be concerned about.

A Las Vegas Judge Approves $1.4 Million Payment to Wrongfully Convicted Man Who Served More Than Two Decades

Fred Steese, who spent decades behind bars for murder — despite the fact that Nevada state prosecutors had documents showing he was in another state at the time of the crime — will receive cash, fees and a certificate of innocence.

This New Advancement in Interpreting DNA Evidence Could be a Game Changer

COMMENTARY | Probabilistic genotyping software has helped forensic labs close more cases and exonerate individuals wrongly accused of a crime.

Lawyers Who Were Ineligible to Handle Serious Criminal Charges Were Given Thousands of These Cases Anyway

In the only state with no public defenders, people charged with murder and other serious crimes can get assigned attorneys who are legally ineligible to take on their cases. The state claims it was unaware.

Maryland Created the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights. Now Lawmakers There Might Repeal It.

Passed in 1974, the statute grants broad workplace protections for officers accused of misconduct and has served as a blueprint for similar laws in more than a dozen other states.

Republicans in State Legislatures Look to Toughen Rioting Penalties

Indiana is one of nearly two dozen states where proposals along these lines have emerged in the wake of last year's protests over racial justice and police misconduct. Critics are raising constitutional rights concerns.

'Systemic Buy-In:' How New Jersey Approaches Police Reform

In New Jersey, comprehensive police reform began by listening to community members, law enforcement agencies and civil rights organizations, Gurbir S. Grewal, the state's attorney general, said during a Route Fifty event.

Would Judges Sentence Fewer People to Prison if Local Governments Had to Pay for Their Prison Stays?

In a case where counties had to bear the cost of incarceration, local prosecutors and judges dismissed more cases. For one researcher, this raised a key question: If local governments had to pay for prison sentences, would incarceration rates decrease?

One State is Reforming Its Sex Offender Registry. Criminal Justice Advocates Aren’t Happy.

Michigan legislators passed legislation to revamp the sex offender registry, which courts have concluded is unconstitutional. Advocates say the new policies miss the mark.

People Convicted of Crimes as Young Adults May See a Chance at Early Release in D.C.

A veto-proof majority of the D.C. City Council passed a bill to open early release to people convicted of crimes they committed before they were 25, saying they deserve the chance for rehabilitation. Victims’ advocates are skeptical.

An Uncertain Future for a Key Missing Persons Program

Officials point fingers over the fate of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a singular resource.

In One State, a Racial Equity Task Force Suggests 100 Ways to Change the Criminal Justice System

North Carolina’s task force released a sweeping report calling for changes in policing and the courts.

How a Spreadsheet Could Change the Criminal Justice System

COMMENTARY | A lack of data instills trial-court judges with enormous, largely unrestrained sentencing power.

Setting the Record Straight on the Current and Future Role of Prosecutors

COMMENTARY | The job of a prosecutor is right in the job title: to prosecute. But prosecutors’ roles have grown more complex over time as they’ve worked to fulfill the many dimensions of justice that their jobs demand.

2020 Sees Largest Year-Over-Year Rise in Murder on Record

Preliminary data from this year shows that homicide rates are up in most major cities. The pandemic and social unrest are both possible factors in the rise.

States Halt Jury Trials Again, Leaving Many Defendants in Jail

The pandemic-related backlog of cases could take years to plow through.

Intimate Partner Violence Has Increased During Pandemic, Emerging Evidence Suggests

COMMENTARY | With COVID-19 came higher unemployment and financial strain, both correlated with domestic violence.

States Join Pilot to Investigate Cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

Federal, state, and tribal agencies will create guidelines for investigations into missing persons and murder cases where Native American or Alaska Native people are involved.