criminal justice system

18 Stories

We Should Cap Prison Sentences at 20 Years

Or at least assess all inmates at that point, argues writer

(Newser) - With talk of reforming the criminal justice system gaining steam, a writer at Democracy makes the case for a controversial idea: maximum sentences of 20 years for nearly all prisoners. Lots of attention has been paid to the long mandatory sentences doled out to nonviolent drug offenders, but Marc Mauer... More »

3 Things Obama Will Do for Released Prisoners

The president announces plans to curb recidivism

(Newser) - President Obama visited New Jersey today to promote his new efforts to help prisoners re-integrate into society, the Star-Ledger reports. Visiting a facility that helps former inmates and joining a roundtable on the topic at Rutgers University, the president made his case. "There are people across the board—folks... More »

Sanders Moves to Ban Private Prisons

The senator introduced the 'Justice Is Not for Sale Act' today

(Newser) - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to Congress today that would ban private prisons and jails in the United States, USA Today reports. Sanders—who has called the size of the US prison population an "international disgrace"—says the goal of for-profit prisons and jails is to... More »

9.5 in 10 American Prosecutors Are White

60% of states have zero black prosecutors

(Newser) - White men make up just 31% of the US population , but they enjoy a much higher percentage among elected prosecutors' ranks: 79%, while whites in general comprise a staggering 95% of all elected prosecutors nationwide, reports the New York Times . An analysis by the Women Donors Network parsed the database... More »

Clinton: End 'Era of Mass Incarceration'

It's seen as a repudiation of her husband's massive crime bill of 1994

(Newser) - The Baltimore riots and their underlying issues have officially become part of the 2016 race. Hillary Clinton today delivered a major speech in New York in which the takeaway sentiment is her call to end the "era of mass incarceration." As the Los Angeles Times reports, Clinton says... More »

Even if Guilty, Adnan Syed of 'Serial' Got a Bad Deal

Op-ed: His case illustrates problem with our informal plea-bargaining system

(Newser) - Is Adnan guilty? Fans of the podcast Serial are familiar with the question, revolving around whether Adnan Syed is a murderer or an innocent man serving a life sentence for no reason. If he's innocent, his sentence, of course, "is a tragedy," writes JaneAnne Murray in the... More »

Teen Faces Life Sentence Over Pot Brownies

Jacob Lavoro's use of hash oil is a big part of the problem

(Newser) - A Texas teen is facing five years to life in prison for allegedly making and selling pot brownies due to the particulars of the state's drug laws—and his recipe. Jacob Lavoro’s fateful mistake was allegedly adding hash oil to his batch. While possession of up to two... More »

Half of Black Men Arrested by Age 23

And roughly 40% of all men have been cuffed by that age: study

(Newser) - If you're a man and you've made your way to age 23 without getting arrested, consider it a win. A new study finds that 38% of white men, 44% of Hispanic men, and 49% of black men have been arrested by that age for non-traffic-related crimes, the AP... More »

Would-Be Juror: Don't Pick Me, I'm A Racist Homophobe

Man admits serving would "be a serious injustice to the legal system"

(Newser) - Today's award for honesty goes to a would-be juror in Southampton, UK, by way of The Daily Echo . The man, whose name was withheld, wrote a letter to the Crown Court saying that he shouldn't be selected to serve on a dangerous driving case because he, in his... More »

How American Justice Went Wrong

Lack of jury trials at heart of the problem: Harvard law prof

(Newser) - The American criminal justice system is collapsing, right? So says Harvard law professor William J. Stuntz in a new book excerpted in Salon . His evidence: a soaring prison population, high murder rates, and whites who avoid prison while blacks serve time. The problem: too much power in the hands of... More »

Let's Stop Naming Rape Suspects

Too many people get unjustly smeared: attorney Roy Black

(Newser) - Those who make rape accusations generally do so with anonymity. It's time to grant the same privilege to those being accused, argues attorney Roy Black in Salon . There's no justice in parading someone in public as if he were "nuclear waste" when he hasn't been convicted... More »

Innocent Man Free After 35 Years

DNA evidence clears him of rape charges

(Newser) - James Bain left prison today after serving 35 years for a crime he didn’t commit. The 54-year-old Florida man, cleared by DNA evidence of the 1974 rape of a 9-year-old boy, appeared relieved as he left the courthouse after a judge signed the order vacating his conviction. A bit... More »

Recession Cuts Into Prison Sentences

States opt for cheaper routes to justice

(Newser) - With the recession squeezing their finances, many states are opting to cut the high costs surrounding incarceration—meaning fewer criminals are heading to jail and prison, and more are getting out earlier, the Washington Post reports. Some states are sending drug offenders and drunk drivers to special courts that allow... More »

Media Hijacks Rihanna's Right to Privacy

Decision to come forward should have been hers alone

(Newser) - The Los Angeles Times and other media outlets violated Rihanna’s privacy by publicizing her identity as a domestic-violence victim, Smita Satiani writes for the Huffington Post. Public desire for details, the need to know if Rihanna herself somehow brought it on, “stems from the ultimate denial that these... More »

Recession May Kill Pricey Death Penalty

Worried about legal costs, states consider abolition

(Newser) - Death and taxes may always be with us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fiddle with them. Specifically, as the recession decreases tax revenue for states, some are considering abolishing the death penalty, which can cost millions. “And we can’t afford that, when there are better... More »

Greek Convicts Stage Daring Prison Break—Again

Fugitives use helicopter to escape Athens facility, as they did in 2006

(Newser) - Two Greek criminals escaped the most secure prison in Athens for the second time, the BBC reports. Vassilis Paleokostas and Alket Rizai fled the Korydallos prison after accomplices picked them up using a helicopter they landed on the building’s roof. The escape is similar to their 2006 breakout, when... More »

Iran Hangs 29 Convicts, Calls Deaths Crime Deterrent

Denies rights groups' charges of excessive use

(Newser) - Amid charges of excessive use, Iran hanged 29 convicts this morning in Tehran. The Iranian Supreme Court approved the death sentences, variously on charges of murder, rape, armed robbery, or drug trafficking, the BBC reports. Last year, the country carried out 317 executions, second only to China. Tehran, however, insists... More »

Record 2.3M Crowd US Prisons

Federal report describes system in crisis

(Newser) - A record 7.2 million criminals were behind bars, on parole, or being supervised on probation in 2006—a figure that cost taxpayers $45 billion and has states rethinking sentencing laws and shipping inmates elsewhere, the Washington Post reports. Of that number, 2.3 million people were in jail or... More »

18 Stories