Criminal Justice

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.

States May See a Lot More Money for Crime Prevention with Biden Plan

President-elect Joe Biden's sweeping criminal justice proposal focuses on prevention and diversion in an attempt to prod states away from locking people up.

A New Program in One State Will Help People Expunge Marijuana Convictions

A state-funded coalition of legal organizations will help Illinois residents navigate the process of criminal record expungement for pot-related offenses.

Federal Intervention in Police Departments to Return Under Biden

The Biden administration will reinvigorate “pattern and practice” investigations into police departments and correctional facilities, while also looking to more aggressively examine prosecutors.

Purdue Pharma’s Plea Deal Won’t Solve America’s Drug Problem

COMMENTARY | Billion-dollar fines will never mend the myriad social issues underlying Americans’ voracious appetite for pain relief.

Oregon Decriminalizes Hard Drug Possession, While Five States Pass Marijuana Ballot Measures

Measures to decriminalize drugs like magic mushrooms also racked up big wins on election night.

Breonna Taylor Killing Spurs Action Against No-Knock Warrants

More than a dozen local jurisdictions have changed their policies.

About 750,000 People Are in Jail On Any Given Day. Can They Vote?

A new report from the Prison Policy Initiative says that most people in jail are eligible to vote, but ultimately won’t be able to due to barriers to voter registration and lack of access to ballots.

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.