The law makes heroin, cocaine, and meth illegal according to their defined chemical structures. But what about drugs made from synthetic compounds, which can be changed with a tiny tweak in a clandestine lab? Can the law just say “close enough?”
Bonus: The War on Supervised Injection Sites
Supervised injection sites provide a venue where addicts can safely use intravenous drugs under medical supervision. The practice saves lives, but in the midst of a deadly opioid epidemic the Justice Department is going after injection sites using laws designed to shut down crack houses.
Bonus: The Confluence, September 16
Dave explains how prosecutors use “drug delivery resulting in death” charges in opioid overdose deaths on WESA’s The Confluence.
Bonus: Botham Jean’s Killer Convicted
Amber Guyger, the off-duty police officer who murdered Botham Jean in his Dallas apartment, has been found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. The trial’s resolution — and surprising displays of emotion in the courtroom — have sparked almost as much reaction as the crime itself.
#108 Koch Industries and Criminal Justice Reform
Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch – names that are synonymous with right-wing political causes and deregulation of industry. So why is Koch joining with the left to give former inmates second chances?
Bonus: Progressive Prosecutors Slapped Again
A crime summit held recently in St. Louis was a virtual who’s-who of high ranking city and state government officials. Conspicuously absent from the gathering were the progressive, African American district attorneys of St. Louis and Kansas City, who were excluded despite having been elected to the top law enforcement post in Missouri’s two largest cities. We look at the latest in a trend of anti-democratic attacks on reformist elected prosecutors.
Can They Do That? The Photoshopped Mugshot
Following a string of bank robberies, Portland police put together a photo lineup of suspects — including one man whose mugshot had been digitally manipulated to remove prominent facial tattoos that were not present on the robber’s face as described by witnesses and as shown on surveillance video. Can they do that?
#107: Reducing Urban Violence
Urban violence kills thousands of Americans every year. It accounts for almost three quarters of the murders in the U.S., and it traps a huge number of people in poverty, blight, trauma and despair. What if there was a way cut murderous urban violence – by half?
Bonus: The Attack on Elected District Attorneys
As reform-minded elected prosecutors gain power across the U.S., they’re increasingly coming under fire from their federal counterparts — most recently, an anti-democratic tirade by U.S. Attorney Bill Barr, who attacked progressive district attorneys for doing what voters elected them to do.
#106 Police Attitudes in Plain View
Many people make their social media posts public. Everyone can see them, like a signed billboard visible anywhere in the world. So, what should we think when we learn that *some* police officers, in some departments, have been posting racist messages or memes endorsing violence, visible to anyone on the Internet? Emily Baker-White is founder of The Plain View Project, an organization that gathered and analyzed thousands of social media posts by police officers, from many police departments. The results reveal much – none of it positive – about the racial and other attitudes of some officers.
Bonus: The Confluence, August 5 2019
In another appearance on 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence, Dave follows up on Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the federal death penalty.
Bonus: The Confluence, August 29
The Justice Department has announced it will seek the death penalty in the case against Robert Bowers, the white supremacist gunman who murdered worshippers in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last year. Dave discusses the decision on Pittsburgh NPR station WESA.
#93: Evidence Based Policing (reprise)
Criminal Injustice returns with a new season on Tuesday, September 3! Until then, we’re reposting one more of our favorite interviews. This episode originally appeared November 13, 2018.
Bonus: Prison Suicides Are Business As Usual
Regardless of how it looks, there’s no direct evidence that Jeffrey Epstein’s jailhouse death on August 10 was anything other than a suicide. But there’s abundant evidence of a systemic problem with prison suicide — something that’s far more common than most people realize.
Bonus: The Federal Death Penalty is Back
Bucking a decades-long trend of fewer death sentences imposed by states, the Trump administration wants to bring back capital punishment in federal cases. What does that mean? What happens next?
Bonus: Do Something
Here we are again: amid a worsening climate of white supremacist violence and right-wing terrorism, two more horrific mass shootings. How long are we going to keep doing this?
Bonus: Justice Stevens Remembered
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at age 99, was an independent thinker and a fascinating figure. We recall a few notable moments from Justice Stevens’s extraordinary legal career.
Bonus: Do You Have to Open Your Door for ICE?
Donald Trump’s (thus far unfulfilled) threats of mass immigration raids in major cities have led many to wonder: if ICE comes knocking with a deportation order, do I have to let them in? Unless they have an order from a real judge (not a DOJ-appointed immigration judge), the answer is NO.
#105 Changing Use of Force Law
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.
#104 From Mass Incarceration, to E-carceration
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?
#99: 21 Principles to Change Prosecution
Americans know that if they want a better criminal justice system, prosecutors must drive change. We’ve seen the result in election of more progressive prosecutors across the country. But what should this new wave of prosecutors do? What policies should shape their priorities?
#103 The Redemption Project
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?
#102 Prosecution at the Crossroads
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.
#101 The Racial Impact of Juror Exclusion
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.