criminal justice

  • Social Pressures and Prejudices Shape Perceptions of Who is a Child

    by Bill Bush and Erin Mysogland

    The contrasting treatments of a 19 year-old white Capitol rioter and a Black 13 year-old charged with first degree murder and facing trial as an adult highlight a longstanding problem: age in the law is interpreted subject to social norms about race, gender and social class.

  • Life Sentences for Arbery's Killers Nothing to Celebrate

    by Joseph Margulies

    A defense attorney and legal expert warns that the harsh sentences imposed on perpetrators of a racist killing help to validate a punitive system of incarceration that overwhelmingly harms people of color. 

  • How the Public Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Wiretapping

    by Andrew Lanham

    Brian Hochman shows that the white backlash to civil rights and racial justice protests helped to undermine longstanding civil libertarian opposition to electronic surveillance and normalize the idea of the government spying on Americans. 

  • Introducing “Disciplining The Nation”

    by Matt Guariglia and Charlotte Rosen

    "Rooted in racial slavery, settler colonialism, and U.S. empire, policing and incarceration in the United States were slowly and meticulously built over time for the purpose of subordinating, punishing, and exploiting populations –and historians have the documents to prove it."

  • Facial Surveillance Has Always Been Flawed

    by Amanda Levendowski

    Today, artificial intelligence startups are scraping the web to build massive face-recognition databases, without any pretense of consent by the public. The technology may be new, but the intrusive assertion of surveillance has a long history. 

  • Historically, Black Distrust of Police is About More than Acts of Violence

    by Christopher Hayes

    The Harlem rebellion against the NYPD in July 1964 was sparked by a police killing of a teenager (and a grand jury's refusal to indict him), but reflected the role of the police in maintaining a profoundly unequal social order that affected everyday life in Black neighborhoods, a situation that has changed little. 

  • Let the Punishment Fit the Crime

    by Ben Austen and Khalil Gibran Muhammad

    Tough-on-crime laws that forbid discretionary parole emerged in the 1970s. A historical perspective suggests they've failed, keeping people in prison long after doing so protects society. 

  • Prison Tech Comes Home: Tenants and Residents in the Surveillance State

    by Erin McElroy, Meredith Whittaker and Nicole E. Weber

    Landlords have combined technologies developed for screening tenants in the 1970s with more recent digital surveillance and facial recognition systems developed in prisons to dramatically increase control over their tenants during an affordable housing crisis. 

  • Fifty Years Since the War on Drugs

    "This summer marks 50 years since the war on drugs began under President Richard Nixon. But the opioid overdose epidemic continues to ravage the country, and incarceration—especially of Black people—has skyrocketed over the past 5 decades." 

  • Supreme Court Rejects Sentence Reductions for Minor Crack Offenses

    Justices disagreed about what lessons to draw from the history of the 1986 Crime Bill that created the sentencing disparity for crack cocaine offenses. Does the fact that some Black organizations at the time supported the law excuse its racist impact? 

  • Why Firing Squads are Making a Comeback in 21st-Century America

    South Carolina's proposed return to execution by firing squad reflects the facts that, while the Roberts Court is very protective of capital punishment, it is increasingly difficult for states to acquire the drugs needed to perform lethal injections. It remains to be seen if firing squads will turn public opinion against capital punishment. 

  • Virginia Police, Army Lt. Caron Nazario and America's Bloody Traffic Stop Catch-22

    by Matthew Guariglia

    The incident of Lt. Caron Nazario illustrates the argument of 1960s Black radical activist Robert Williams that violence against Black people has always been part of maintaining the social order; recognizing nonviolence as a tactic of civil rights activism should not obscure the constancy of violence from the other side.