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criminal justice



  • 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. 



  • Criminal Justice Reform Won’t Work Until it Focuses on Black Women

    by Talitha L. LeFlouria

    The history of mass incarceration is also the history of control and exploitation of Black women through the criminal justice system. Reforms need to recognize the impacts of the system on women to advance justice. 



  • Unequal Before the Law

    Sara Mayeux's history of public defenders shows how the liberal reform movement that established a system to provide counsel to the poor buttressed the systemic slant of the justice system against them. 



  • Disenfranchisement in Jails Weakens our Democracy

    by Charlotte Rosen

    Because the pretrial population is disproportionately non-White, this kind of “de facto disenfranchisement” constitutes an abhorrent form of racist voter suppression, despite rarely gaining the headlines and outrage that long voting lines do. 



  • “Nothing Stirred in the Air”

    by Stephen Dillon

    The architecture of the "supermax" prison targets the senses and emotions of the incarcerated as a means of control in the wake of political organizing inside and outside of prisons in the 1960s and 1970s. 



  • How Mass Incarceration Has Shaped History

    Political forces pushing for mass incarceration have been closely connected to those restricting the power of labor and pressing to keep wages low. 



  • News From the Dead

    by Eileen Sperry

    The experiences of convicted women who were "resurrected" after being unsuccessfully hanged illuminate the precarious legal and social standing of women in early modern England. 



  • The Rape Kit’s Secret History

    This is the story of the woman who forced the police to start treating sexual assault like a crime.



  • Bail Funds are Having a Moment in 2020

    by Melanie Newport

    Activists have supported protestors by contributing to bail funds, but it's time to follow through on the longstanding call of social movement leaders to abolish cash bail as a symbol and symptom of unequal justice.