CRIME STORY DAILY

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 58

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: New research from the Brennan Center focuses on mass incarceration in the US as both a reflection and a cause of inequality. People who get caught up in the criminal justice system – a group that’s disproportionately poor and Black – are not only held back by the social stigma that comes with a criminal record; they also sustain enormous financial losses as a result: those who spend time in prison miss out on more than half the future income they might otherwise have earned. And a piece from The Marshall Project focuses on the US Sentencing Commission, the powerful behind-the-scenes agency that writes sentencing rules for the entire federal prison system. The commission, which helps set prison terms for more than 70,000 Americans each year, is required by law to be independent, bipartisan, and to represent a diversity of backgrounds. But the Trump administration has broken from that precedent, moving to fill the agency’s five empty seats with white, male, tough-on-crime former law enforcement officials.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: The New York Times reported this week that according to new research from the National Registry of Exonerations, official misconduct – including witness tampering, fabricating or concealing evidence, and misconduct in interrogations or at trial – plays a role in more than half of all wrongful convictions. The study found that overall, exonerated Black defendants were slightly more likely than white defendants to be victims of official misconduct, by a margin of 57% to 52%. This disparity increased with the severity of the crime; in exonerations involving death sentences, the study found misconduct in 87% of the cases involving Black defendants, compared with 68% for whites. A related piece from The Atlantic highlights “the other police violence”: the many different forms of police misconduct that disproportionately target innocent Black men – and the culture of impunity that protects police officers even after their misconduct comes to light. And another piece from the New York Times outlines how New York City’s police unions came to embrace – and endorse – President Trump. In one of the most liberal and racially-diverse cities in the country, police union leaders have stridently repeated the president’s “mayhem messaging,” declared war on the Democratic mayor, and attacked Black Lives Matter protesters in scathing, obscene terms. Partly to blame is the widening demographic gap between the city, its police force, and the police unions’ leadership, which is overwhelmingly suburban, conservative, and white.

In complex crime storytelling: A piece from the New York Times Magazine takes a deep look into “what happened inside Ed Buck’s apartment.” Ed Buck, a prominent political donor, was arrested in 2019 after two Black men suffered fatal drug overdoses in his West Hollywood apartment in two separate incidents less than two years apart. Federal prosecutors and the Los Angeles DA will soon try to prove in court that Buck was illegally distributing meth from his apartment and helped cause at least two overdose deaths. The piece explores the details of the case, Buck’s background and those of his victims, attempting to separate conspiracy theory from tabloid spin from fact. And a piece from The Atlantic recounts the wild true story of Toby Dorr, AKA “the Dog Lady.” A mild-mannered, law-abiding animal lover and mother of three, Toby led a simple, if unfulfilling, life. In 2004, wanting to make the world a better place, she started a dog-fostering program at the state penitentiary in her hometown of Lansing, Kansas. It was there that she met John Manard, a convicted murderer 22 years her junior, fell in love, and conspired to smuggle him out of prison in a wire dog crate.

And in culture/true crime: Slate reviews A Wilderness of Error, an upcoming true crime docuseries from FX. The series tackles “one of the most-argued-about mysteries in the history of true crime”: the murder of Colette MacDonald and her two young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1970. In an interview with New York Magazine, actress Alfre Woodard discusses police violence, the “ripple effects of institutionalized murder,” and the making of Clemency, the 2019 film in which she starred as a death row warden haunted by a botched execution. And the Los Angeles Times profiles Susan Burton, a formerly incarcerated activist, author, and founder of the annual Justice on Trial Film Festival.

Friday September 18, 2020

PM Stories

The Other Police Violence Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic

How Republicans Undermined Ex-Felon Voting Rights in Florida Patricia Mazzei and Michael Wines, New York Times

Pandemic inspires new push to shrink jails and prisons Kelly Servick, Science Magazine

Washington’s prisons may have hit pivotal moment as they eye deep cut in their population Nina Shapiro, Seattle Times

Over 850 inmates at Folsom Prison have caught COVID-19, most of them in past 2 weeks Michael McGough, Sacramento Bee

What It’s Like To Be Held By ICE During The COVID-19 Pandemic Rowaida Abdelaziz, HuffPost

In April, She Was Jailed on a Probation Violation. By June, She Was Dead Tana Ganeva, Reason

How COVID-19 Tested the Family Bonds I Was Building When I Got Out Angel Alejandro, The Marshall Project

Maya Moore’s Marriage to the Man She Helped Exonerate Is a Great Story in an Awful Year Christina Cauterucci, Slate

Incarcerated Artist Chronicles Life in San Quentin Prison During Pandemic Aparna Komarla, Davis Vanguard

This LA activist went to jail. Now she runs a film fest that puts justice on trial Laura Zornosa, Los Angeles Times

A look at Netflix’s ‘Longmire,’ Indian Country and the battle for jurisdiction Adam Banner, ABA Journal

AM Stories

What It’s Going to Take to Fix Policing Sunwoo Oh, Brennan Center for Justice

What ‘Systemic’ Police Reform Really Means Ronald Weitzer, The Crime Report

Race, policing, and the universal yearning for safety Ezra Klein, Vox

Qualified Immunity: A Legal, Practical, and Moral Failure Jay Schweikert, Cato Institute

Lawmakers, Law Enforcement Clash Over Military Gear Program Andrea Fuller, Wall Street Journal

Military Police Sought “Heat Ray” Weapon Deemed Unsuitable for War to Use on DC Protesters Elliot Hannon, Slate

The Pervasive Violence of the LA County Sheriff’s Department Piper French, The Appeal

In ‘law and order’ debate, data can be molded to suit moment Lindsay Whitehurst, AP News

‘There’s not a comparable year’: Homicides are up 52% in Chicago amid COVID-19, with majority involving people of color Grace Hauck, USA Today

Chief Moore: Pandemic Now Driving Up Violence (Los Angeles) City News Service

NY Bail Reform Called ‘Most Dramatic’ in Nation The Crime Report

Texas court tosses death sentence in police killing due to intellectual disability Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Netflix’s American Murder: The Family Next Door Tells The Tragic Story Of The Watts Family Murders Natalie Morin, Refinery29

Chief Moore: Pandemic Now Driving Up Violence

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore says the COVID-19 pandemic has helped drive gun violence and increase killings in the city this year, including by spurring economic despair and interpersonal dramas while undercutting efforts to interrupt cycles of retaliation.

"What we're sensing is a lot of stress, a lot of communities that are on edge, a certain amount of depression," Moore said during a morning meeting of the civilian Police Commission in remarks reported by the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to serving as an emotional and economic wrecking ball, the pandemic, Moore said, has shifted nighttime gatherings away from traditional settings such as clubs and bars into neighborhoods and party houses, which have become a "fertile bed for some type of spontaneous violence."

He also said that pandemic-related rules barring visitors from local hospitals have prevented trained violence intervention workers from visiting the bedsides of surviving shooting victims, eliminating the opportunity to provide resources and emotional support, address their anger and help prevent retaliatory violence on the streets.

"Those (programs) are being interrupted right now," Moore said.

Moore's comments follow a violent summer that saw gun violence increase in July and August. The trend has continued into this month, Moore said.

Earlier in the year, police had cited the pandemic as a cause for crime decreases, with fewer people on the street amid stay-at-home orders.

However, as of Sept. 5, homicides were up 13.7% compared with the same time last year, while the number of shooting victims was up 8.2%, according to the latest city data. Incidents in which shots were fired, including those in which no one was struck, were up 11.9%.

Compared with 2018, the increases were even more stark, with homicides up more than 20%.

The increases come despite a 5.6% drop in violent crime overall, and a 9.3% decrease in property crime despite a 35% increase in vehicle thefts.

They also come despite the lack of a parallel uptick in a more traditional driver of bloodshed in LA: gang-related violence. According to the Los Angeles Police Department data, shootings linked to gangs were down 14.4% compared with last year, and gang-related homicides were down nearly 2%.

Moore described LA's increased violence this year as less severe than that seen in other major cities, including New York City, but said his commanders nonetheless view it as a top priority and have begun implementing changes to address it.

As one example, Moore said that officers in the department's troubled Metropolitan Division who had been detailed to general crime suppression work have been redeployed onto shooting response teams, which are now assisting detectives by canvassing neighborhoods for information and following up with witnesses and victims.

Moore said the LAPD also is working with neighboring agencies to identify "what cross-neighborhood issues may be influencing this," The Times reported.

Thursday September 17, 2020

PM Stories

Before Election, Trump Tries To Stack Prison-Sentencing Agency With Right Wing Allies Eli Hager, The Marshall Project

Barr Tells Prosecutors to Consider Charging Violent Protesters With Sedition Aruna Viswanatha and Sadie Gurman, Wall Street Journal

Barr Defends Right to Intrude in Cases as He Sees Fit Katie Benner, New York Times

Trump Administration Working “Hand In Hand” With NYPD To Blame Violent Crime On Bail Reform Christopher Robbins, Gothamist

A Progressive Prosecutor Faces Off With Portland’s Aggressive Police Alice Speri, The Intercept

Families of Oregon prisoners call for mass release of inmates, plan for future public health crises Jayati Ramakrishnan, The Oregonian

Department of Retaliation: Inside Missouri’s Prison System Ryan Krull, Riverfront Times

‘It Almost Broke Me’: How the Pandemic Strains Mental Health at Pittsburgh’s Jail Juliette Rihl, The Crime Report

How Legislation Meant to Overhaul Probation And Parole In Pennsylvania Strayed From Its Roots Jonathan Ben-Menachem, The Appeal

How do we get innocent people out of prison? Maricopa County’s new unit is a start Hope DeLapo and Marissa Bluestine, AZ Central

Judge grants DNA testing in Pervis Payne’s Tennessee death penalty case Katherine Burgess, Tennessean

How White-Collar Criminals Get Away With It Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein, New Republic

What Happened Inside Ed Buck’s Apartment? Jesse Baron, New York Times Magazine

AM Stories

Bill Barr, Unbound Manuel Roig-Franzia and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post Magazine

Lock Him Up? Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

President Trump and Joe Biden offer opposing visions of policing Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times

Police or Prosecutor Misconduct Is at Root of Half of Exoneration Cases, Study Finds Aimee Ortiz, New York Times

Enduring Injustice: The Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the US Death Penalty Death Penalty Information Center

DC legalized marijuana, but one thing didn’t change: Almost everyone arrested on pot charges is Black Paul Schwartzman and John D. Harden, Washington Post

Louisville announces $12M settlement, police changes in wake of Breonna Taylor shooting Andrew Wolfson, Darcy Costello, and Tessa Duvall, Louisville Courier Journal

Breonna Taylor won’t get ‘true justice’ until officers are fired or convicted, prosecutors say Bailey Loosemore, Louisville Courier Journal

Documents Reveal How the Police Kept Daniel Prude’s Death Quiet Michael Wilson and Edgar Sandoval, New York Times

In Vallejo, police encounters often turn violent Otis R. Taylor Jr., San Francisco Chronicle

Sheriff’s combative response to shocking deputy attack sparks new alarms, criticism Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times

Many face mask mandates go unenforced as police feel political, economic pressure Kristine Phillips, USA Today

Wednesday September 16, 2020

PM Stories

Whistleblower Alleges ‘Medical Neglect,’ Questionable Hysterectomies Of ICE Detainees Rachel Treisman, NPR

Reports Of ICE’s Forced Sterilizations Are Nothing New In America Angelina Chapin, New York Magazine

ICE Deported a Woman Who Accused Guards of Sexual Assault While the Feds Were Still Investigating the Incident Lomi Kriel, ProPublica

A Simple Way for Congress to Hold ICE Accountable Matt Ford, New Republic

Congress should support independent oversight of federal prisons Kevin Ring, The Hill

2 dead of virus at US prison where executions are scheduled Michael Balsamo, AP News

To stop viral spread in prisons, fix reentry Editorial Board, Star-Ledger

The Supreme Court must step in to stop Florida Republicans from disenfranchising voters Editorial Board, Washington Post

A New Law To Help Formerly Incarcerated Firefighters Is Far More Limited Than It Seems Jay Willis, The Appeal

New Alliance of Progressive DAs to Push Criminal Justice Reform in California Marisa Lagos, KQED

Grocery stores are pushing California to be tougher on crime. Here’s why Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times

Cincinnati Is an Epicenter for the Death Penalty. Its Prosecutor Race Could End That in November. Rachel M. Cohen, The Appeal

A tornado tore up a federal prison in SC. Lockdowns, leaky cells and COVID-19 followed Jake Shore, The Island Packet

Federal prison officers are worried drones could one day be used to airlift inmates to freedom James Vincent, The Verge

AM Stories

Police Riots and the Limits of Electoral Solutions Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

‘It seems systematic’: Doctors group finds 115 cases of head injuries from crowd control weapons during nationwide protests Jordan Culver, USA Today

Police misconduct, such as falsifying evidence, is a leading cause of wrongful convictions, study finds Kristine Phillips, USA Today

Shooting of LA deputies new flashpoint in a ‘tinderbox moment’ Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times

The Police Are Lying in LA and the Media Is Falling for It – Again Elie Mystal, The Nation

Did This Police Maneuver Lead to Daniel Prude’s Death? Michael Wilson, New York Times

Rochester Mayor Fires Police Chief Over Death of Daniel Prude Ben Chapman, Wall Street Journal

Protesters and police have the same message for the Rochester mayor: Resign Shayna Jacobs, Chris Libonati, and Tim Craig, Washington Post

Greg Abbott’s “Back the Blue” Posse Can’t Shoot Straight Christopher Hooks, Texas Monthly

Louisville to Pay Millions to Breonna Taylor’s Family, Install Police Reforms as Part of Settlement Scott Calvert, Wall Street Journal

Toughening Police Decertification an Uphill Battle for States Laura Bowen, The Crime Report

NYPD Crime Response Time Still Lags Three Months Post-Protest Suhail Bhat, The City

‘They were cold’: bridging the gap between police and families of homicide victims Abené Clayton, The Guardian

Tuesday September 15, 2020

PM Stories

Conviction, Imprisonment, and Lost Earnings: How Involvement with the Criminal Justice System Deepens Inequality Terry-Ann Craigie, Ames Grawert, and Cameron Kimble, Brennan Center for Justice

The Decision Upholding Florida’s Jim Crow-Style Poll Tax Is an Affront to Democracy Perry Grossman and Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

Oregon prisoners report ‘inhumane’ conditions following fire evacuations, transfers Jayati Ramakrishnan, The Oregonian

Oregon’s inmate transfers due to wildfires ‘did not go as smoothly’ as intended, state concedes Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian

‘Don’t let me die’: Inside the Alabama prison system’s COVID-19 quarantine ward Connor Sheets, AL.com

Florida to resume visitation soon, despite highest monthly COVID-19 death toll among prisoners Grace Toohey, Orlando Sentinel

After a Pandemic Pause, ICE Resumes Deportation Arrests Miriam Jordan, New York Times

Court Rules Government Can End Humanitarian Protections For Some 300,000 Immigrants Rachel Treisman, NPR

Report: Death penalty cases show history of racial disparity Colleen Long, Washington Post

Far From Being Beyond Saving, Prison Youth Deserve Every Opportunity For Meaningful Rehabilitation Mark Wilson, The Appeal

Illinois AG brings his South Side upbringing into criminal justice Shia Kapos, Politico

Florida man cleared of rape and murder convictions after 37 years in prison The Guardian

The True Story of the Married Woman Who Smuggled Her Boyfriend Out of Prison in a Dog Crate Michael J. Mooney, The Atlantic

During pandemic, trash and crime increased on Whittier Boulevard. Lowrider clubs said: Enough Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Los Angeles Times

AM Stories

The Trump campaign goes all in on conflating ‘protesters’ and ‘criminals’ Philip Bump, Washington Post

Prosecutor Quits Trump’s Law Enforcement Commission, Saying The Fix Is In Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

How New York City’s Police Unions Embraced Trump Alan Feuer, New York Times

Lead cop in George Floyd case had record of overusing restraints, prosecutors reveal Los Angeles Times

California failed to pass a major police reform bill. Here’s what experts say that could mean for the rest of the nation Theresa Waldrop, CNN

How politics and police unions stopped bills to hold bad cops accountable George Skelton, Los Angeles Times

A Step Toward Accountability in Policing Scott Michelman and David Cole, Wall Street Journal

New York City Council, Don’t Roll Back Police Reforms Editorial Board, New York Times

Virginia has made good progress on police reform. It should finish strong. Editorial Board, Washington Post

For victims of police violence, family spokespeople emerge to carry legacies, spur action Robert Klemko, Washington Post

The Cop Who Quit Instead of Helping to Gentrify Atlanta Tom Gissler with Laura Thompson, Mother Jones

Alfre Woodard Discusses Police Violence and the Ending of Clemency Angelica Jade Bastién, New York Magazine

Monday September 14, 2020

PM Stories

Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Fines Before Voting, Appeals Court Rules Patricia Mazzei, New York Times

Federal appeals court blocks hundreds of thousands of felons in Florida who still owe fines and fees from registering to vote Lori Rozsa, Washington Post

The expensive burden of parole, probation unjustly places people in a second prison Jessica Jackson, USA Today

Sitting ducks: COVID threatens many NY prisoners; why won’t Cuomo grant more clemency? Steve Zeidman, New York Daily News

Virginia prison has 407 COVID-19 cases, two new deaths San Francisco Chronicle

“A Silent Pandemic”: Nurse at ICE Facility Blows the Whistle on Coronavirus Dangers José Olivares and John Washington, The Intercept

Prisons battling COVID-19 face another disease threat this fall Nicole Wetsman, The Verge

For Prisoners in the West, the Virus and the Wildfires Are Colliding Threats Tim Arango and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times

California Gov. Gavin Newsom Just Gave Former Inmates a Path To Become Firefighters Edwin Rios, Mother Jones

‘Raise the Age’ Observers Find Progress and Pain in Courts Following Juvenile Justice Reforms Eileen Grench, The City

How Black female prosecutors are challenging the status quo and fighting for reform Rhonda Grimes, ABA Journal

‘A Wilderness of Error’: FX Docuseries On Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case Doesn’t Rush To Judgment Brandon Choe, Deadline

What to Know Before Watching A Wilderness of Error Laura Miller, Slate

AM Stories

Portland’s High Stakes Experiment to Shrink the Role of Police in Fighting Gun Violence Casey Parks, The Trace

Stop Blaming Police Protests for Gun Violence Spikes Brentin Mock, Bloomberg

Five police shootings in Chicago in two months, but no video released on any of them. Is it taking too long for the public to see what happened? Jeremy Gorner and Annie Sweeney, Chicago Tribune

NYPD Study: Implicit Bias Training Changes Minds, Not Necessarily Behavior Martin Kaste, NPR

Black Police Chiefs, Feeling Squeezed, Face Criticism on All Sides John Eligon, New York Times

It’s Time for a Reckoning About This Foundational Piece of Police Technology Rashida Richardson and Amba Kak, Slate

Police Turn California’s Lynch Law Against Protests James Stout, Slate

Federal Prosecutors Intervene to Charge 2 Over Rochester Protests Ed Shanahan, New York Times

Virginia police charged the state’s top Black legislator with a felony. It’s absurd. Editorial Board, Washington Post

I did Shop With a Cop as a kid. Now I realize it was police propaganda. Arriel Vinson, Vox

The Killing of Breonna Taylor, Part 1 and Part 2 New York Times

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 57

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: A piece from Politico focuses on felon voting rights. In recent years, many states have moved to restore the vote to people with felony records, creating a pool of as many as two million newly eligible voters ahead of the November election. The result means that a significant number of people with firsthand knowledge of the criminal justice system will regain their right to vote at a moment when law and order, police brutality, public safety and race are dominating the presidential contest. Reason highlights the Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act, a proposed bipartisan bill that could potentially keep people charged with federal drug crimes out of unnecessary pretrial detention. The Washington Post asks how – and if – this summer’s mass protests will impact the prosecution of police misconduct. And, as the pandemic continues to disrupt court operations across the country, new research from the Brennan Center examines the impact of video proceedings on fairness and access to justice in court.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A piece from the New York Times focuses on the case of Daniel Prude, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in March. For months, the Rochester, New York police department treated his death as a drug overdose – until last week, when body camera footage was released showing Prude surrounded by police officers, naked, handcuffed and held face down in the street, with a hood pulled over his head. A piece from the New Republic outlines the long and gruesome history of “spit hoods,” the violent restraining device implicated in Prude’s death. And new research from the Brennan Center highlights the connections between law enforcement, white supremacy, and far-right militancy. Police reforms, often imposed after incidents of racist misconduct or brutality, have largely targeted implicit biases: the unconscious prejudices that subtly influence and inform police behavior. But these reforms, while well-intentioned, fail to address an especially harmful and pervasive form of bias: the explicit racism that remains entrenched within American law enforcement.

In complex crime storytelling: A piece from the Washington Post outlines one day in the life of gun violence in America. On September 5, 2019, 113 people were shot in 24 hours in the US. At least 36 of them died. What’s most remarkable about these numbers is that they’re not remarkable at all: every day since has seen appalling numbers of dead and wounded. A piece from the Los Angeles Times focuses on the case of Lee Arthur Hester. In 1961, Hester, then 14 years old, falsely confessed to the murder of a white schoolteacher in Chicago, Illinois. It took nearly 60 years to vacate the conviction and finally clear his name. It also took the help of Steven Drizin, co-director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, who has spent decades working to exonerate the wrongfully accused. And the New Republic reports from Portland, Oregon, outlining how mass protests against racist police brutality sparked a historic federal crackdown on dissent.

And in culture/true crime: The New York Times reviews “A Knock at Midnight,” the new memoir by defense attorney Brittany K. Barnett. Chronicling her path from idealistic law student to prominent voice in the movement for criminal justice reform – Barnett is a co-founder of Buried Alive, an organization dedicated to eliminating life sentences for nonviolent drug offenders – the book is both a coming-of-age story and an “urgent call to free those buried alive by America’s legal system.” And The Athletic profiles journalist Keri Blakinger, from her childhood as a promising figure skater; to her own experiences of homelessness, addiction, and incarceration; to her current gig covering criminal justice for The Marshall Project.

Friday September 11, 2020

PM Stories

Oregon fires: evacuated prisoners sleep on floor in packed Covid-19 hotspot Sam Levin, The Guardian

Sixth Oregon inmate dies after positive coronavirus test Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian

‘We sent 500 tests. They don’t answer calls’: Inside ICE’s coronavirus testing disaster Patrick Michels and Laura C. Morel, Reveal

ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to DC protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed. Antonio Olivo and Nick Miroff, Washington Post

Missouri Attorney General’s Office Pushes to Keep Innocent People in Prison Emily Hoerner, The Appeal

Long delays for justice in Cook County: ‘I’m not at peace,’ mother of murder victim says Frank Main, Chicago Sun-Times

A New Bill Would Stop the Feds From Tossing Drug Defendants in Prison Before They’re Convicted Scott Shackford, Reason

The Impact of Video Proceedings on Fairness and Access to Justice in Court Alicia Bannon and Janna Adelstein, Brennan Center for Justice

Experts Urge Caution as Courts Reopen Via Video Ted Gest, The Crime Report

Felons have the potential to swing close 2020 races Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico

How Counseling Incarcerated Clients Helps Me Heal Lizzie Fatseas, The Marshall Project

AM Stories

Reform the Police? Guess Who Funds My State’s Officials Miriam Pawel, New York Times

Gov. Greg Abbott calls on all Texas candidates to sign pledge against police budget cuts Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Driving while Black: ABC News analysis of traffic stops reveals racial disparities in several US cities Pierre Thomas, Yun Choi, Jasmine Brown, and Pete Madden, ABC News

Study spotlights racial disparities in state criminal justice system Sarah Betancourt, Commonwealth Magazine

Body-Worn Cameras May Not Affect Police Behavior, Study Finds The Crime Report

What are ‘wandering officers’? Experts break down troubling policing pattern Ashley Capoot, Today

Swept up in the federal response to Portland protests: ‘I didn’t know if I was going to be seen again’ Shawn Boburg, Meg Kelly, and Joyce Sohyun Lee, Washington Post

Salt Lake City Police Shot a 13-Year-Old With Autism. Now They Refuse to Explain Why. Jeremy Stahl, Slate

Over a Dozen Black and Latino Men Accused a Cop of Humiliating, Invasive Strip Searches. The NYPD Kept Promoting Him. Joaquin Sapien, Topher Sanders, and Nate Schweber, ProPublica

It Is Possible to Reform the Police Neil Gross, New York Times

Call police for a woman who is changing clothes in an alley? A new program in Denver sends mental health professionals instead. Elise Schmelzer, Denver Post

Thursday September 10, 2020

PM Stories

Trump’s Execution Spree Continues at Federal Killing Ground in Indiana Liliana Segura, The Intercept

When Asthma in Jail Becomes a Death Sentence Michael Barajas, Texas Observer

Alabama’s ‘Vending Machine Justice’ Victims Are Living ‘Like Livestock’ Beth Shelburne, Daily Beast

New York Watchdogs Lack Data to Track Judges’ Compliance With Bail Reform Steven Yoder, The Appeal

Cuomo’s Solitary Confinement ‘Overhaul’ Delayed Another Year Rosa Goldensohn and Reuven Blau, The City

Some, but not all, felons win back the right to vote in NC 2020 elections Will Doran, Raleigh News & Observer

Illinois, California Lead 50-State Ranking of Reentry Progress Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Growing Coalition Backs Pervis Payne’s Fight for DNA Testing Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

From death row to model inmate, Renaldo Hudson set free after 37 years: ‘I was preparing to die. I wasn’t preparing for this moment.’ Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune

‘I was sure she was going to be dead at 25’: A figure skater’s redemptive journey Katie Strang, The Athletic

The Injustice Deep Within the Justice System Sierra Crane Murdoch, New York Times

AM Stories

Why support for criminal justice reform isn’t the same as being anti-police Brad Polumbo, USA Today

Rochester police chief, other high-ranking officials retire amid inquiry into man’s death in custody Shayna Jacobs and Tim Craig, Washington Post

Spit hoods scrutinized after death of Daniel Prude. Why are they used by police? Marcia Greenwood and Steve Orr, USA Today

Prosecutors charged more police after Ferguson but struggled to win convictions. Will that change after George Floyd? Mark Berman and Kimberly Kindy, Washington Post

Political Divisions Drive Police Brutality Lawsuit Settlements Robert Benincasa, NPR

Chicago Launches ‘Early Intervention’ System to Identify Troubled Cops Laura Bowen, The Crime Report

Black woman to lead Louisville, Ky., police amid Breonna Taylor shooting fallout Los Angeles Times

Body camera program brings unease for Mass. police, and, perhaps, a new age of accountability Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe

Police ‘Pretext’ Traffic Stops Need to End, Some Lawmakers Say Marsha Mercer, Stateline

How ‘Warrior Policing’ Undermines US Law Enforcement Arthur Rizer and David Franco, The Crime Report

In LA County, Gangs Wear Badges Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

‘A forgotten city’: An LA community beset by police violence and crime hopes for change Nicole Santa Cruz and Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times

Democratic Change Still Works Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

Wednesday September 9, 2020

PM Stories

Prisons and jails comprise the largest COVID clusters in the United States Ericka Conant, Al Día

We learned many hard lessons from the tragic COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin prison Haiyan Ramirez Batlle and John Grant, Sacramento Bee

Congress must do more to protect people in prisons and jails and those re-entering the community Daniel Brown and Nkechi Taifa, Des Moines Register

Judge orders body cameras on guards at state prison, citing evidence of officers abusing inmates (California) Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 Intensifies Reentry For Better or Worse: Report Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Ohio’s prison population at its lowest since 2005 as coronavirus pandemic response continues Cory Shaffer, Cleveland.com

The Hunger Strikers of Pine Prairie Protesting Indefinite Detention by ICE Joe Penney, New York Review of Books

Native, Black people in North Dakota 4 times likelier to be on parole, probation or in prison than white people April Baumgarten, Inforum

Faulty Facial Recognition Led to His Arrest – Now He’s Suing Natalie O’Neill, Vice

Pa. Board of Pardons recommends clemency for 8 lifers, including 3 women Samantha Melamed, Philadelphia Inquirer

Righting a wrong – and rewriting a racist legacy Del Quentin Wilber, Los Angeles Times

The Day Malcolm X Was Killed Les Payne, The New Yorker

AM Stories

The Battle of Portland Sarah Jeong, New Republic

After summer of chaos and confrontation, Portland braces again for more unrest Faiz Siddiqui, Fenit Nirappil, and Mark Berman, Washington Post

‘You’re Not Allowed To Film’: The Fight To Control Who Reports From Portland Nancy Rommelmann, Reason

Right-wing protesters gather outside Portland, adding to tensions Samantha Schmidt, Fenit Nirappil, Abigail Hauslohner, and Tim Craig, Washington Post

DHS draft document: White supremacists are greatest terror threat Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politico

Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement Michael German, Brennan Center for Justice

Police Unions Are Showing How They Really Feel About Racism and Brutality by Endorsing Trump Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

‘Completely Exasperated’: Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Confronts Kenosha Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic

Rochester officials announce police reforms after death of Daniel Prude Doha Madani, NBC News

Will police be charged in Daniel Prude’s death? This evidence may decide Gary Craig, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Entrenched racist culture at heart of Portsmouth’s police department, officers and former chief say Gary A. Harki, Virginian-Pilot

Prosecutor Fights Cop’s ‘Bad Faith’ Bid To Usurp Authority In Confederate Statue Cases Ryan J. Reilly, HuffPost

In early-morning maneuver, Missouri Senate pushes through bill aimed at Gardner Jack Suntrup, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

There are now more police officers in Florida’s schools than nurses – and student arrests are rising Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

Behind a father-and-son protest, a history of laughter and struggle Michael Laris, Washington Post

Tuesday September 8, 2020

PM Stories

Mass Shootings Are Soaring, With Black Neighborhoods Hit Hardest Champe Barton, J. Brian Charles, Jennifer Mascia, and Chip Brownlee, The Trace

Gun violence in America: The story of one day and 113 people shot Bonnie Berkowitz and Christine Loman, Washington Post

Gun laws were meant to ban private militants. Now, our hands are tied. Darrell A. H. Miller, Washington Post

Waiting To Be Thrown Out Gaby Del Valle, The Verge

Act now or coronavirus will sentence more prisoners to death, say experts Jessica Glenza, The Guardian

The FIRST STEP Act Has Reduced Prison Terms for More Than 7,000 People Jacob Sullum, Reason

The pandemic is boosting efforts to get the old out of prison The Economist

COVID-19 adds more challenges to reentry after prison: ‘It’s really a whole new game’ Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press

Fewer jailed and new arrests remain low, says report on Harris County’s bail system Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle

The Beto Effect: Transforming Houston’s Criminal Justice System Keri Blakinger, The Marshall Project

A Weapon for Extortion Long Ignored in Alabama Prisons: Cellphones Serge F. Kovaleski and Dan Barry, New York Times

Welcome to “Perception Gaps: Locked Up” Samantha Laine Perfas, Christian Science Monitor

AM Stories

Harris: ‘We do have 2 systems of justice in America’ Allie Bice, Politico

Eleventh hour action by California legislators on police reform: What passed – and didn’t Nico Savidge, East Bay Times

California devotes $30 million to aid parolees in pandemic Don Thompson, San Francisco Chronicle

California DA’s new policy to consider looters’ ‘needs’ before charging them Lia Eustachewich, New York Post

Murder charge of ex-San Diego County sheriff's deputy first in state under new law Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune

NYC to Make Any Deadly Force, Used Wrongly, a Fireable Offense for Police Emilee Larkin, Courthouse News

Lawmakers Propose ‘Bo’s Law’ on Two Year Anniversary of Botham Jean’s Murder (Texas) Diana Zoga, NBC News

Curtis Flowers will finally be freed. Prosecutorial misconduct remains a problem. Vangela M. Wade, Washington Post

Can you trust the police to tell the truth? Reliability under scrutiny as cases tossed Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times

How Covid-19 Amplifies the Failures of Family Court Natalie Pattillo, New York Review of Books

Ohio governor delays more executions amidst drug shortage AP News

Monday September 7, 2020

PM Stories

Jacob Blake, Rare Survivor at Center of Police Protests, Starts Telling His Own Story Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times

Jacob Blake Speaks Out for First Time Since Kenosha Police Shooting: “It Hurts to Breathe” Daniel Politi, Slate

The American Horror of Hooding Tasha Williams and Alison Kinney, New Republic

Gov. Greg Abbott considering legislation to put Austin police under state control after budget cut Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Bust the Police Unions Peter Suderman, Reason

32 Black federal prosecutors in Washington have a plan to make the criminal justice system more fair Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post

Report: Harris County’s bail reforms let more people out of jail before trial without raising risk of reoffending Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Thousands of Children On Probation Are Incarcerated Each Year for Nonviolent, Noncriminal Behaviors Dawn R. Wolfe, The Appeal

Curtis Flowers’ Murder Charges Are Finally Dropped. It Only Took 6 Trials and 24 Years. Jamilah King, Mother Jones

Washington Post Journalist Radley Balko on Civil Rights, Militarized Policing, and the Power of Video Nick Gillespie, Reason

AM Stories

California Passes Key Criminal Justice Reforms Sasha Abramsky, The Nation

Democrats are running on the most progressive police reform agenda in modern American history Roge Karma, Vox

Daniel Prude’s Death: Police Silence and Accusations of a Cover-Up Michael Wilson, Jesse McKinley, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Troy Closson, and Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times

His Brother Called for Help After He Was Acting Strangely. Police Knelt on Him Until He Was Brain Dead. Meg O’Connor, The Appeal

New York to empanel grand jury to investigate the death of Daniel Prude Brian Sharp, USA Today

Nearly 250 women have been fatally shot by police since 2015 Marisa Iati, Jennifer Jenkins, and Sommer Brugal, Washington Post

Elijah McClain’s death reflects failures of White, suburban police departments Scott Wilson, Washington Post

The Mount Vernon Police Tapes: In Secretly Recorded Calls, Officers Allege Beatings In Custody And Illegal Strip Searches George Joseph, Gothamist

Criticism of Police Use of ‘Spit Hoods’ Grows Louder The Crime Report

Santa Ana embraced a ‘defund the police’ movement. Then came the police union backlash Adam Elmahrek, Los Angeles Times

Police still use attack dogs against Black Americans Tyler D. Parry, Washington Post

Steps Toward Police Reform Lynsea Garrison, New York Times

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 56

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: A piece from The New Yorker focuses on Florida, where, with two months to go before Election Day, Republican lawmakers are doing everything they can to prevent as many as eight hundred thousand former felons living in the state from casting a ballot. And the Los Angeles Times reports from California, where a proposal to decertify police officers convicted of serious misconduct was shot down in the state Senate Monday night. The piece outlines how – between partisan conflict, infighting among Democratic legislators, and intense lobbying by law enforcement interests – even this relatively modest proposal was derailed.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: Pieces from HuffPost and The Intercept highlight the “thin blue line” between violent, far-right militias and police. As historic uprisings against police brutality have swept the country in recent months, antagonistic right-wing vigilantes have been a constant, menacing presence. Often seen patrolling Black Lives Matter protests with the tacit, if not explicit, support of law enforcement, these vigilantes have shot protesters, beaten them, and attacked them with cars. Both pieces examine the wave of vigilante violence that has swelled this summer in response to the BLM protests, as well as the longstanding relationship between white vigilantism and law enforcement, which have historically been eager partners in suppressing movements for racial justice and liberation. Another piece from HuffPost goes inside the “dangerous online fever swamps” of American police: the toxic ecosystem of right-wing police Facebook groups, “news” sites, and message boards where cops share racist memes, spread disinformation, and openly call for violence against protesters. And, in a piece for Slate, reporter Justin Peters recounts his own experience of an online “warrior cop” seminar, where he learned to “treat neighborhoods like battlegrounds – and to always be ready to kill.”

In complex crime storytelling: Pieces from The New Yorker and the Washington Post focus on Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the police shooting of Jacob Blake has deepened longstanding tensions and resentments between the city’s Black community and its white, conservative leadership. And a piece from The Marshall Project focuses on California, where firefighters have been battling unprecedented blazes and staffing shortages this wildfire season. Before the pandemic, thousands of the state’s wildfire crews came from state prisons; but this summer, as almost 600 wildfires burn across Northern California, hundreds of incarcerated firefighters have gone home, part of an early release program initiated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to protect them from the coronavirus. The shortage has called attention to both the state’s reliance on prison labor to fight fires, and to a longstanding critique of the program: how hard it is for those same inmates to become professional firefighters once they’re free.

And in culture/true crime: A piece from The Atlantic focuses on Drakeo the Ruler, the 26-year-old LA rapper whose new album, Thank You for Using GTL, was recorded and released from Men’s Central Jail, the abuse-riddled downtown-Los Angeles facility where he has been detained since last fall. When rappers, especially young Black men, write songs about police harassment or brutality, they are often dismissed outright; but at this moment of reckoning, the piece argues, more Americans could stand to seriously listen to the music of young rappers making art about – and despite – their firsthand experiences with the system. And a piece from the Columbia Journalism Review centers on the California-based Prison Renaissance Zine Project. Launched in 2017, the project pairs incarcerated writers and artists with Stanford University students to produce an annual magazine called “Incarceratedly Yours.” This spring, when the coronavirus began to explode inside prisons across the country and strict lockdown measures turned San Quentin into a black box, the group scrambled to produce an artistic response to the crisis. The final product, a special edition COVID-19 issue of “Incarceratedly Yours,” offers a vivid, emotionally intense look at life on the inside, in the inmates’ own words and on their terms.

Friday September 4, 2020

PM Stories

COVID-19, Jails, and Public Safety Anna Harvey and Orion Taylor, Council on Criminal Justice

Covid-19 has killed more police officers this year than all other causes combined, data shows Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post

From Goldwater to Trump, the long history of ‘Law and Order’ politics Peter Grier and Noah Robertson, Christian Science Monitor

As Trump Calls for Law and Order, Can Chicago’s Top Prosecutor Beat the Charge That She’s Soft on Crime? Mick Dumke, ProPublica

Amid Coronavirus, Trump Moved to Expel Immigrants – But Border Patrol Didn’t Test Any of Them Malaika Tapper, The Intercept

New York Promised to Help Mentally Ill People as They Left Prison. Here’s What Happened Instead. Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Criminal Trials Resume With Oversized Jury Boxes and Masked Lawyers, Defendants Dave Michaels, Wall Street Journal

Prosecutors begin dismissing felony cases involving LAPD officers accused in gang-framing scandal Ben Poston and Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times

Police ‘Pretext’ Traffic Stops Need to End, Some Lawmakers Say Marsha Mercer, Stateline

Targeted Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi, Tampa Bay Times

Two sets of brothers spent decades in prison. This may be their last chance to get out. Samantha Melamed, Philadelphia Inquirer

I Thought Jail Would Help Me Get Clean. I Was Dead Wrong. Morgan Godvin, The Marshall Project

AM Stories

Donald Trump’s Incitements to Violence Have Crossed an Alarming Threshold John Cassidy, The New Yorker

Why Trump’s “Law and Order” Gambit Isn’t Working Ray Suarez, Slate

With a hand from Trump, the right makes Rittenhouse a cause célèbre Natasha Korecki and Christopher Cadelago, Politico

How Portland’s Protests Drifted Into ‘Dangerous Territory’ Nick Gillespie, Reason

One last push for police reform Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris, Politico

‘Protests shouldn’t end in people being blinded’: Cities, states begin to ban police use of rubber bullets Kevin McCoy, Donovan Slack, and Jay Hancock, USA Today

Police help defeat California bill on removing problem cops Don Thompson, AP News

Prosecutor accuses DC police of making rioting arrests with insufficient evidence Peter Hermann and Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post

What Can Mayors Do When the Police Stop Doing Their Jobs? Alec MacGillis, ProPublica

The Little Cards That Tell Police ‘Let’s Forget This Ever Happened’ Katie Way, Vice

Why the Gender Gap in Policing is a Public Safety Crisis Nikki Smith-Kea, The Crime Report

The Hell of Being a Black Cop Redditt Hudson, New Republic

‘Who Replaces Me?’ The Daily

A Community Organizer Takes on White Vigilantism Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker

‘This is my space’: In Breonna Taylor’s hometown, protesters become family Los Angeles Times

Thursday September 3, 2020

PM Stories

The Violent Contradiction of California’s Reliance on Incarcerated Firefighters Ray Levy Uyeda, New Republic

California’s Inmate Firefighters May Soon Be Allowed To Continue Their Careers After Release Scott Shackford, Reason

Returning from prison and jail is hard during normal times – it’s even more difficult during COVID-19 Wanda Bertram, Prison Policy Initiative

COVID-19 Death Rate in Prison Twice That of General Population: Study Nancy Bilyeau, The Crime Report

Advocates, inmates memorialize ‘overlooked’ lives lost to coronavirus behind bars Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post

California’s federal prisons to lift COVID-19 visitor restriction – and workers are worried Kate Irby, Sacramento Bee

ICE Is Using COVID-19 As An Excuse To Raid Homes & Detain Undocumented People Britni De La Cretaz, Refinery29

ICE arrests 2,000 immigrants in largest sweep of the pandemic Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News

Federal court overturns order blocking ICE arrests in Mass. courthouses Jeremy C. Fox and Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe

How America’s ‘criminal justice complex’ locks up people to feed the beast Phil Kadner, Chicago Sun-Times

Gun Laws Are the Key to Addressing America’s Suicide Crisis Chris Murphy, The Atlantic

The Inside Story of the $8 Million Heist from the Carnegie Library Travis McDade, Smithsonian

Carceral Aesthetics Rachel Kushner, Artforum

AM Stories

Trump Visits Kenosha, Offering Support for Police With Little Mention of Shooting John Eligon, Julie Bosman, and Peter Baker, New York Times

The Streets of Kenosha and the National Stage Emily Witt, The New Yorker

In Kenosha, unrest surfaces history of anti-Blackness and questions about police spending Carlos Ballesteros and Adam Mahoney, Chicago Reader

Kenosha Police Already Had a Reputation Ray Suarez, Slate

As Guns Get Drawn at Protest Sites, Demonstrators Fear a Volatile New Phase Mike Baker, Julie Bosman, and Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times

How the Fatal Shooting at a Portland Protest Unfolded Evan Hill, Stella Cooper, Drew Jordan, and Dmitriy Khavin, New York Times

Far-Right Militias Are Learning Impunity From the Cops Melissa Gira Grant, New Republic

Justice Department investigates protest leaders, funding in Portland and other cities Kevin Johnson, USA Today

Prosecutors Are Using Gang Laws To Criminalize Protest Ali Winston, The Appeal

Stall tactics. Distractions. Lobbying. How police reform was derailed in California Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times

Detroit protesters file lawsuit over ‘brutal violence’ from police M. L. Elrick, Detroit Free Press

75-year-old Buffalo man shoved by police speaks out on incident after month in hospital Sarah Taddeo, USA Today

Police Have Learned the Wrong Lessons From the Military Fred Kaplan, Slate

How a New Wave of Black Activists Changed the Conversation Jenna Wortham, New York Times Magazine

Wednesday September 2, 2020

PM Stories

Incarceratedly Yours, COVID-19 Issue Prison Renaissance Zine Project

San Quentin tells its own COVID story Jack Herrera, Columbia Journalism Review

Care at NC jail was supposed to be ‘best in the nation.’ So why have inmates died? Danielle Battaglia, Charlotte Observer

Federal prisons resume visitation in October, 7 months after COVID-19 forced suspension Kevin Johnson, USA Today

‘Waiting and waiting:’ COVID only made Harris County’s massive backlog of murder cases worse Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle

California could soon end its dumb policy on inmate firefighters. What took so long? Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times

The Former Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires Christie Thompson, The Marshall Project

Our Nation is Fragmented Over Criminal Record Relief: Report Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

New Orleans Threatens To Defund Court Over Fines And Fees Emma Cueto, Law360

Rosenblum must end persisting injustice of nonunanimous juries Calvin Duncan, The Oregonian

Oregon Could Become the First State to Decriminalize Drugs in November Zachary A. Siegel, The Appeal

An incarcerated writer wrote a piece about apologizing to the family of the man he killed. Now the victim’s sister has responded. Taisha Lawson, Washington Post

Kamala Harris’ Tricky Balancing Act Between Top Cop and Criminal Justice Reformer Marisa Lagos and Scott Shafer, KQED

What Incarcerated Rappers Can Teach America Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic

AM Stories

A Long History of Language That Incites and Demonizes Peter Baker, New York Times

Trump’s illuminating defense of Kyle Rittenhouse Aaron Blake, Washington Post

Kyle Rittenhouse, Kenosha, and the Sheepdog Mentality Graeme Wood, The Atlantic

As clashes between armed groups and leftist protesters turn deadly, police face complaints of tolerating vigilantes Joshua Partlow and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Washington Post

White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police Christopher Mathias, HuffPost

Inside The Dangerous Online Fever Swamps Of American Police Jesselyn Cook and Nick Robins-Early, HuffPost

The FBI warned for years that police are cozy with the far right. Is no one listening? Mike German, The Guardian

Police PR machine under scrutiny for inaccurate reporting, alleged pro-cop bias Maya Lau, Los Angeles Times

Officer alleges LAPD had quotas, silenced whistleblowers in gang-labeling scandal Kevin Rector and Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times

Highway ‘stop-and-frisk’: How Pennsylvania state troopers conduct illegal traffic searches Joseph Darius Jaafari and Joshua Vaugh, Philadelphia Inquirer

California passes some modest police oversight bills, but other measures fall short Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times

Playing Good Cop Rebecca Onion, Slate

Capturing the Police The Verge

Tuesday September 1, 2020

PM Stories

Who Gets to Vote in Florida? Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker

More People With Felony Convictions Can Vote, but Roadblocks Remain Lindsey Van Ness, Stateline

A Promising Violence Prevention Program in Chicago Faces a Massive Budget Setback Lakeidra Chavis, The Trace

Mental Fatigue, Anxiety And Hopelessness, Welcome To Today’s American Federal Prison Experience Walter Pavlo, Forbes

‘They’re Trying to Kill Us’ Zoe Schiffer and Nicole Wetsman, The Verge

Sentenced under now invalid drug laws and less than a year from freedom, inmate gets COVID-19 Kristine Phillips, USA Today

How Prison Officials Block Access to the Media Karina Piser and Marcia Brown, American Prospect

We Already Have a Tool That Lowers Crime, Saves Money and Shrinks the Prison Population Emily Mooney, Politico

The Perils of ‘Zoom Justice’ Sarah Esther Lageson, The Crime Report

Pretrial Risk Assessment Is Biased And Indefensible Jeffrey Clayton, Law360

California lawmakers approve bills to address racism in criminal charges and jury selection Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times

Many Penalties Reduced in Year One of First Step Act The Crime Report

Slutty Vegan, a Black-owned Atlanta burger joint, is serving up jobs and life skills to juvenile offenders Christopher A. Daniel, CBS News

AM Stories

In Kenosha, Jacob Blake’s shooting deepens longstanding resentments and fears Kim Bellware, Tim Craig, Mark Berman, and Griff Witte, Washington Post

US political divide becomes increasingly violent, rattling activists and police Tim Craig, Washington Post

One Person Dead in Portland After Clashes Between Trump Supporters and Protesters Mike Baker, New York Times

Trump and allies seek to turn violence at protests to his advantage Laura King, Los Angeles Times

Kenosha chief defends cops’ action in letting Kyle Rittenhouse leave scene of deadly shooting; handcuffs taken off Jacob Blake Dan Hinkel, John Keilman, Stacy St. Clair, and Genevieve Bookwalter, Chicago Tribune

The Conservative Defense of Kyle Rittenhouse Is Dangerous Nonsense Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

The Police Are Pretty Sure They’re Going to Get Away With It Alex Pareene, New Republic

Minneapolis Has a Long History of Racist Police. Activists Want to Kick Out the County Attorney Who Protected Them. Matt Cohen, Mother Jones

How Minneapolis police handled the in-custody death of a Black man 10 years before George Floyd Neena Satija, Washington Post

I Learned to Think Like a “Warrior Cop” Justin Peters, Slate

A Simple Step to Change Police Culture: Disarm Candace McCoy, The Crime Report

How Black Cops Can Transform the Police Redditt Hudson, New Republic

Breonna Taylor’s Life Was Changing. Then the Police Came to Her Door. Rukmini Callimachi, New York Times

Monday August 31, 2020

PM Stories

Trump’s failed promise of criminal justice reform gives Biden an opening Mark Osler, Washington Post

Fact Check: Trump’s And Biden’s Records On Criminal Justice Brian Naylor, NPR

In 2016, Trump Promised to Make America Safe Again. He Failed. Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

Trump claims crime is up in US cities. The truth is more complicated. German Lopez, Vox

“Law and Order” Isn’t the Answer to Rising Crime in Philadelphia Maura Ewing, Slate

Judges are trying to reduce a reform prosecutor’s powers. She’s right to fight back. Editorial Board, Washington Post

The US Prison System Has Reached 1,000 COVID-19 Deaths Scott Shackford, Reason

California prison chief retires amid coronavirus and protest pressure Los Angeles Times

More than 200 new coronavirus cases reported at ICE facility in Arizona NBC News

Women fight for release from Fort Worth prison. Some with COVID died while waiting. Kaley Johnson and Mark Dent, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Inmates Released From Overcrowded Prisons Due to COVID-19 Are Struggling Pallavi Pundir, Vice

California Needs More Firefighters – But It’s Preventing Skilled Former Inmates From Helping Edwin Rios, Mother Jones

The coronavirus gave them jobs – and a new lease on life Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times

Released from San Quentin, Rebuilding Their Lives Lakshmi Sarah and Beth LaBerge, KQED

AM Stories

At DC march, families decry ‘two systems of justice’ Aaron Morrison, Kat Stafford, and Ashraf Khalil, Washington Post

Young People At The March On Washington Pledge To Keep Fighting Philip Lewis, HuffPost

March on Washington highlights generational divide on police reform Maya King, Politico

What Conservatives Really Mean When They Call for Law and Order Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones

Trump Says Crime Is Rampant in NYC. Here Are the Facts. Alan Feuer, New York Times

How the Police Radicalized the ‘NBA Bubble’ Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

Support the NBA Strike, Boycott the Police Derecka Purnell, The Appeal

The Thin Blue Line Between Violent, Pro-Trump Militias and Police Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept

US Law Enforcement’s Warrior Complex Is on Full Display in the Streets – and in Leaked Documents Chris Gelardi, The Nation

There’s a reason it’s hard to discipline police. It starts with a bill of rights 47 years ago. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post

The Killing Is Not the Content Allissa V. Richardson, The Atlantic

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 55

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: A piece from the New York Times asks, “Can prosecutors be taught to avoid jail sentences?” In the last few years, at least 60 district attorneys have come to see incarceration as “destructive, racist, expensive, and ineffective.” But as they work to reform the criminal justice system from the inside, progressive prosecutors are often met with resistance – starting with their own staffs. In a piece for Politico Magazine, five Black female prosecutors – including St. Louis, MO circuit attorney Kim Gardner and Cook County, IL state’s attorney Kim Foxx – offer 11 ideas for how to make their profession “part of the solution,” from holding police accountable by pursuing criminal charges against officers accused of misconduct to supporting community-based restorative justice and diversion programs. Another piece from the New York Times focuses on Mike Schmidt, Portland’s newly-elected progressive prosecutor, whose decision to focus on only the most serious protest crimes – and to dismiss hundreds of low-level charges related to the protests – has infuriated some law enforcement officials. And NBC News highlights a slate of proposed reform bills in California that could permanently change the face of law enforcement in the nation’s most populous state. 

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: Slate outlines everything we know about the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer. A piece from The Atlantic also focuses on Jacob Blake, the first high-profile shooting of a Black man by police since massive Black Lives Matter protests erupted earlier this summer. Though the size and scope of the protests were unprecedented, they have not brought serious changes in how American policing works, with reforms stalled in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill. The shooting of Jacob Blake, the piece argues, is a wake-up call: even as the national conversation moves on from police violence, the shootings themselves – “at once freshly horrifying and achingly familiar” – continue. A piece from the New Republic outlines Kenosha, Wisconsin’s history of police brutality, and of halting attempts at police reform. Six years ago, the city made national headlines for a case that became the impetus for groundbreaking reforms concerning the use of deadly force. But those reforms were incremental and limited in scope, narrowly focused on making changes to how law enforcement investigates its own. The shooting of Jacob Blake, the piece argues, is less a failure of reform than evidence of what a reform really does: “It makes some changes, but it keeps in place law enforcement’s most central and lethal power.” And a Reuters investigation focuses on qualified immunity, revealing wide regional disparities in how and when the doctrine is applied. In a review of 529 cases since 2005, Reuters found that both trial judges and federal appeals court judges in some jurisdictions were much more inclined than others to accept qualified immunity as a defense to civil lawsuits brought by victims of police brutality. In a direct comparison between Texas and California, the two most populous states, judges in Texas granted immunity to police at nearly twice the rate of California judges – 59% of cases, compared to 34%.

In complex crime storytelling: A piece for Vanity Fair by Ta-Nehisi Coates focuses on Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot and killed in her own home by Louisville, Kentucky police earlier this year. Through a series of interviews with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, Coates paints a picture of a “full, loving life taken too soon.” A piece from the Washington Post centers on the Washington Highlands neighborhood of Washington, DC, a notoriously dangerous community with a history of gang-related gun violence. As of this week, the neighborhood has gone 100 consecutive days without a shooting, thanks to a gang truce brokered over Zoom with the help of local “violence interrupters.” And, in a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review, a beat reporter discusses the work of telling stories about crime, highlighting the ways in which even the most well-intentioned journalists can become “mouthpieces for authority.”

And in culture/true crime: A piece from Vanity Fair examines the BLM movement in Minneapolis through the lens of its street art: the murals, posters, and spray-painted tags that have sprouted on walls and boarded-up storefronts across the city since the protests began. The Guardian reviews “The Prison Within,” a new documentary about restorative justice. The film explores a program at San Quentin that pairs inmates with a “surrogate victim” – a person who has been hurt by a similar crime. In emotional, unguarded conversations, the two share their experiences and find common ground, allowing both offenders and victims to process and heal from trauma. And the New York Review of Books interviews Jerry Mitchell, the fearless investigative journalist whose work helped solve some of the most notorious racial crimes of the twentieth century. Mitchell discusses his career path, his journalistic process, and parallels between the civil rights-era murders he worked to solve and contemporary news events.  

Friday August 28, 2020

PM Stories

Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings Haley Willis, Muyi Xiao, Christiaan Triebert, Christoph Koettl, Stella Cooper, David Botti, John Ismay, and Ainara Tiefenthäler, New York Times

An inescapable echo between Trump’s campaign rhetoric and the deaths of protesters in Kenosha Philip Bump, Washington Post

Jacob Blake’s Dad: Cops Shot My Son, High-Fived Kyle Rittenhouse Jamie Ross, Daily Beast

White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says Sam Levin, The Guardian

Blue Bloods: America’s Brotherhood of Police Officers Eve L. Ewing, Vanity Fair

Long History of US Racism in Policing Blocks Reforms, Panel Says Nancy Bilyeau, The Crime Report

Many California police reform efforts have stalled despite push from George Floyd protests Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times

Hallmark police reform bill faces tough road in California Don Thompson, San Francisco Chronicle

Texas Cities Caught in Crossfire Over Police Defunding Laura Bowen, The Crime Report

Black Lives Matter goes big on policy agenda Maya King, Politico

Can “Progressive” Prosecutors Bring Justice to Victims of Police Violence? Alice Speri, The Intercept

For Many Police Departments, De-Escalation Training Is a Response Heather Gillers, Wall Street Journal

Minneapolis police to reduce allowable use of force under new policy Libor Jany and Liz Navratil, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Protesters in Multiple States Are Facing Felony Charges, Including Terrorism Akela Lacy, The Intercept

AM Stories

California Has a Shortage of Imprisoned Firefighters. That’s Good. Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

Penal firefighters are battling California fires. Once released, they can’t fight fires full time. Dario Gurrola, NBC News  

My cousin had his best year fighting fires as an inmate. But the system failed him. Danielle Allen, Washington Post

No state would commit the resources I did to the defense of a death penalty trial. That’s concerning. Mark W. Bennett, Washington Post

Attack racism in California’s criminal proceedings Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

The Shaky Foundation of Trump’s Pose As a Criminal Justice Reformer Jacob Sullum, Reason

Trump and Biden Both Have Complicated Records on Criminal Justice Reform Jenni Fink, Newsweek

How Washington Exports Failed Criminal Justice Policies Douglas Keillor, The Crime Report

Pennsylvania Governor Calls For State To Legalize Marijuana, Citing Pandemic Bill Chappell, NPR

In decades as an Iowa warden, I learned how mandatory sentences, ill-considered programs and more keep inmates and prisons from success John Mathes, Des Moines Register

Convicted of Sex Crimes, but With No Victims Michael Winerip, New York Times Magazine

State Attorney: DNA exonerates man in 1983 Tampa murder Dan Sullivan, Tampa Bay Times

44 years later, federal appeals court rules the rights of Concord man were violated at trial Michelle Boudin, WCNC

Top Prosecutor Kim Gardner Isn’t Backing Down From Trump, Hate Mail, or an Armed Suburban Couple Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Thursday August 27, 2020

PM Stories

Suspect Charged With Murder After 2 Shot Dead At Kenosha Protest Sara Boboltz and Andy Campbell, HuffPost

Police in Kenosha shared water, said they ‘appreciate’ armed group before two killed Adam Rogan, Racine Journal Times

Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups Jeremy Stahl, Slate

NBA players sit out in protest four years to the day after Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest vs. Green Bay Shanna McCarriston, CBS Sports

The Kenosha shooting didn’t happen in a vacuum Denise Lockwood, CNN

Measurement Matters: The Key to Police Reform Ava J. Abramowitz and Catherine Milton, Lawfare

‘Prosecutors Are Not Exempt from Criticism’ Diana Becton, Satana Deberry, Kim Gardner, Kim Foxx, and Rachael Rollins, Politico

Report details why Louisville police decided to forcibly search Breonna Taylor’s home Andrew Wolfson, Louisville Courier Journal

No Qualified Immunity for Kentucky Cops Who Strip-Searched a 4-Year-Old and Threatened Mom Lenore Skenazy, Reason

Are Looters Undermining The Movement – Or Creating It? Claire Fallon, HuffPost

Anger Can Build a Better World Myisha Cherry, The Atlantic

The Day Malcolm X Was Killed Les Payne, The New Yorker

AM Stories

Hardwired Against Change: Race, Incarceration, and COVID-19 Andrea Armstrong, Just Security

COVID-19 Has Exacerbated the Inequities Inherent in Incarceration Stephanie Angel, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

The new death penalty: COVID has now killed more US prisoners in months than the US death penalty has in the last two decades Sentencing Law and Policy

A View from the Inside: What It’s Like to Be Incarcerated During COVID-19 Brandon Brown, Vera Institute of Justice

Over the Objections of the Navajo Nation, Trump Prepares to Execute Lezmond Mitchell Liliana Segura, The Intercept

Navajo man asks to halt execution while seeking clemency Michael Balsamo, AP News

The Power of Community Bail Funds Mary Hooks and Jocelyn Simonson, New York Times

Rollins withdraws motion for higher bail in case involving Bail Fund (Massachusetts) Michael Jonas, Commonwealth Magazine

Casualties of the ‘Crack’ Era: Today’s Aging Prisoners Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

‘History Is Corrected’: An Interview with Jerry Mitchell Claudia Dreifus, New York Review of Books

The Prison Within: inside a moving documentary about restorative justice Radheyan Simonpillai, The Guardian

I May Destroy You, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and the Therapeutic Power of Narrative Jen Chaney, New York Magazine

Toward Criminal Justice Chris Lanier, The Nation

Wednesday August 26, 2020

PM Stories

The Shooting of Jacob Blake Is a Wake-Up Call David A. Graham, The Atlantic

Amid independent inquiry of Jacob Blake’s shooting, advocates question Wisconsin’s police reviews Kim Bellware, Washington Post

Kenosha, Wis., where a Black man was shot, has long delayed police body cameras Los Angeles Times

When “Police Reform” Came to Kenosha, Wisconsin Melissa Gira Grant, New Republic

Shot by cops, thwarted by judges and geography Andrew Chung, Lawrence Hurley, Andrea Januta, Jackie Botts, and Jaimi Dowdell, Reuters

Fired, but still a cop: How Washington state’s decertification process leaves troubled officers with their guns Mike Reicher, Seattle Times

Behind the Portland Protests: A Troubling Record of Police Killings Noelle Crombie and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, The Crime Report

NYPD Expands Use Of Controversial Subpoenas To Criminal Cases Ali Winston, The Appeal

A Black Vice Mayor In Virginia Urged A Police Chief’s Firing. Now She Faces Charges. Ryan J. Reilly, HuffPost

How comprehensive police reform can make Americans safer and save money Nicholas Turner, USA Today

“Most Cops Are Good” Aviva Shen, Slate

The Abolition Movement Josie Duffy Rice, Vanity Fair

AM Stories

Prisoners and guards agree about federal coronavirus response: ‘We do not feel safe’ Kim Bellware, Washington Post

CDC: Prison COVID-19 cases undercounted without mass testing Christian Boone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Portrait Of An Outbreak: How Coronavirus Spread In The Prince George’s County Jail Dorey Scheimer and Meghna Chakrabarti, WBUR

‘We are not animals’: Letter details how Tucson prison became COVID-19 hot spot Alisa Reznick, Arizona Public Media

Psychological Torture: ICE Responds to COVID-19 With Solitary Confinement Carmen Molina Acosta, The Intercept

‘Disgusting policy’: Prisoners’ families must pay for remains after COVID-19 deaths Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle

Congress Must Pass COVID-19 Legislation to Depopulate Jails and Prisons Maritza Perez, Filter Magazine

The RNC Can’t Figure Out Where It Stands on Criminal Justice Reform CJ Ciaramella, Reason

The Loughlin case exposes the justice system’s double standards Sharyl Attkisson, The Hill

Can Prosecutors Be Taught to Avoid Jail Sentences? Tina Rosenberg, New York Times

Want Prosecutorial Reform? Start With Curtailing The Influence Of Police Unions. Miriam Aroni Krinsky and Buta Biberaj, The Appeal

What does an election look like inside a prison? (Vermont) Riley Board, Burlington Free Press

Tuesday August 25, 2020

PM Stories

What We Know About the Shooting of Jacob Blake Molly Olmstead, Slate

Wisconsin protesters rally for second night against ‘shocking and outrageous’ police shooting of Jacob Blake Jordan Culver, USA Today

Fires in Kenosha Reflect Anger After Police Shooting of Jacob Blake Julie Bosman, New York Times

“We have so much work to do”: One year later, how Elijah McClain’s death impacted his friends and catalyzed a movement Elise Schmelzer, Denver Post

Deadly force behind the wheel Shaun Raviv and John Sullivan, Washington Post

Do I Need To Call The Police? Michael Hobbes, HuffPost

Violence Cannot Remedy Violence Judith Levine and Erica R. Meiners, Boston Review

With a truce brokered over Zoom, one DC neighborhood goes nearly 100 days without a shooting Peter Hermann, Washington Post

As jury trials resume in Philadelphia, courts lay out plans for juror safety Vinny Vella, Philadelphia Inquirer

Is This The Beginning Of The End For Private Prisons? The Market Seems To Think So Morgan Simon, Forbes

Telling stories about crime is hard. That’s no excuse for not doing better. Jason Cherkis, Columbia Journalism Review

AM Stories

Protecting the Fundamental Right to Mail in Prison Alia Nahra, Brennan Center for Justice

Loved Ones And Prisoners Sound Alarm As Coronavirus Cases Surge At Florida’s Largest Women’s Prison Alexandra DeLuca, The Appeal

Yuma Inmates Allege Prison Officials Ordered Them To Refuse COVID-19 Testing To Keep Numbers Down (Arizona) Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ

COVID-19 Puts More than 1 Million Immigration Cases on Hold The Crime Report

How US Policy Turned the Sonoran Desert Into a Graveyard for Migrants James Verini, New York Times Magazine

The US plans to execute the only Native American on federal death row against the Navajo Nation’s wishes Dakin Andone, CNN

The US Shouldn’t Get to Decide If a Navajo Man Dies Matthew LM Fletcher and Tamera Begay, The Atlantic

These men received 505-year prison sentences each. Now their cases are under new scrutiny Scott Glover, CNN

Golden State Killer given life in prison for rapes, murders that terrorized a generation Paige St. John and Luke Money, Los Angeles Times

A Life Sentence Couldn’t Defeat Their Love. Now They’re Working To Change The System That Kept Them Apart. Mara Kardas-Nelson, The Appeal

Bringing the Arts to Prison, Even During a Pandemic Emily Nonko, Next City

‘Lovecraft Country’ Uses Horror Traditions to Tell a Story of American Racism Daniel D’Addario, Variety

Monday August 24, 2020

PM Stories

Wisconsin Police Shoot Jacob Blake in “Broad Daylight” Inae Oh, Mother Jones

Kenosha Reels After Police Shooting and Night of Protest Julie Bosman, New York Times

In Portland, a Prosecutor Must Decide: Which Protesters Should Go to Jail? Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times

Tennessee adopts new law that could strip some protesters of voting rights Colby Itkowitz and Amy Gardner, Washington Post

Texas put hundreds of hours into finding and arresting police brutality protesters. Lawyers call it a “witch hunt.” Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

As police overhaul bill lingers, unions flex their political muscles Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe

DA seeks bail increase after learning nonprofit fund would pay it Michael Jonas, Commonwealth Magazine

With gun violence surging and public trust on the line, New York’s officers go back on the beat Shayna Jacobs, Washington Post

Despite Huge Number of Misconduct Complaints, Cops at NYPD’s 75th Precinct Keep Getting Promotions Tana Ganeva, The Intercept

What We Need To Curb Violence In The US (And It Isn’t More Prisons And Policing) Aswad Thomas, HuffPost

The Life Breonna Taylor Lived, In the Words of Her Mother Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vanity Fair

Minneapolis Street Art During and After the BLM Protests Danez Smith, Vanity Fair

AM Stories

Coronavirus Limits California’s Efforts to Fight Fires With Prison Labor Thomas Fuller, New York Times

Florida won’t disclose data of prisoner COVID cases, deaths at smaller facilities Grace Toohey, Orlando Sentinel

Coronavirus cases in prisons are exploding. More people need to be let out. Editorial Board, Washington Post

NORCOR, last jail in Oregon to hold immigration detainees, to end ICE contract Conrad Wilson, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Here’s what defunding the police would look like in your city Lilly Smith, Fast Company

Slate of proposed bills could change policing in California Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News

Goodbye Cincinnati Police Department? Charter amendment effort aims to re-imagine police but faces wide resistance Sharon Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer

323,911 Accusations of NYPD Misconduct Are Released Online Ashley Southall, New York Times

Protesters allege rampant physical and verbal abuse by Chicago police at recent demonstrations Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune

The Massachusetts Bail Fund is on the right side of the law – and justice Sandra Susan Smith, Boston Globe

New Orleans City Council Passes Resolution Ending Fines and Fees Vera Institute of Justice

Black veteran serving life for $30 marijuana sale set free after nearly a decade in prison N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA Today

Stop using ‘officer-involved shooting’ Mya Frazier, Columbia Journalism Review

A Closer Look at the Public Art at Chicago Police Stations Logan Jaffe, ProPublica

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 54

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: New York Magazine examines the “historical irony” of a Biden-Harris ticket during a criminal-justice reckoning. With the inequities of prisons and policing under a national spotlight, both Biden and Harris have been criticized by progressives for their punitive records on criminal justice. But Biden’s ascension to the nomination, and his choice of running mate, suggest that, rather than being a liability for which candidates are punished, these records have "merely nudged them to make moderate entreaties in exchange for more influence than ever before.” A piece from The Intercept focuses on Atlanta, where the complexities of race, class, and generational divides have complicated the police-reform debate. Even within the city’s Black community, the issue is highly polarizing and politically charged, and there is no consensus about what to do. A piece from The New Yorker also focuses on race and police reform, highlighting generations of “tough on crime” policymaking that has prioritized police budgets over the social programs and public services that are essential to both the fulfillment of racial justice and the elimination of violent crime. And a piece from The Atlantic examines this “politics of punishment” in the context of COVID-19. Even as the pandemic has disrupted almost every facet of American life, criminal courts have continued the routine processing and prosecution of petty misdemeanor crimes, putting the lives of attorneys, court staff, and defendants alike at risk.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: New York Magazine profiles Ed Mullins, president of New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association and the face of NYPD opposition to police reform. In his two decades as president of the SBA, Mullins has staunchly resisted every attempt, no matter how modest, to curb police brutality and corruption: “If the pace of police reform seems glacial, even in the wake of the global uprisings over the death of George Floyd, that’s because Mullins has helped push the outer edge of the debate so far to the right that even the smallest compromise seems unthinkable.” A piece from the Washington Post focuses on police recruitment ads, offering a window into both how police attract new officers and how they see their role in the community. In some ads, officers are shown speaking with elderly neighbors or playing basketball with kids; but more often, they are seen in action, aiming and shooting weapons or chasing down a fleeing suspect. And a piece from the New York Times centers on Gainesville, Florida police officer Bobby White. In 2016, White gained national prominence after a video of him shooting hoops with local teenagers went viral – a rare moment of hope at a time when viral videos of police brutality were becoming the norm. Nicknamed “Basketball Cop,” White became a local celebrity and the face of good neighborhood policing in Gainesville. But another video, captured two years earlier and posted to Facebook in the wake of George Floyd’s death, tells a very different story.

In complex crime storytelling: A piece from Vox focuses on the case of Robert Nichols, who, in 1965, mysteriously disappeared from his small-town midwestern life. His family heard nothing from or about him until 2002, when US marshals appeared on their doorstep to tell them Nichols’s body had been found. For nearly 40 years, he had been living in a different city under a different name; after his death, genetic genealogists, working with law enforcement, had uncovered his true identity. Because of its strangeness, the case made headlines and attracted attention from amateur “web sleuths,” who have tried to connect Nichols to various cold cases. But more likely, Nichols just hadn't wanted to be found. The piece raises complex ethical questions about the unregulated “Wild West” of genetic genealogy: When does the “right to know” trump the right to anonymity? “Who has the right to tell our ancestors’ stories, and who has the right to simply disappear?” And a piece from the New York Times focuses on the prison inmates “learning magic by mail.” In letters with fellow inmates and magicians on the outside, they exchange step-by-step diagrams of sleight-of-hand tricks, or tips for making props with limited materials: poker chips made from glue and toilet paper; milk cartons cut into a deck of cards.

And in culture/true crime: A piece from The Atlantic reflects on the noir tradition and “the end of the fictional cop.” While film and TV have helped naturalize police violence, the piece argues, noir is “a way out,” offering a model for telling complex stories of danger and morality without centering badges and guns. And Mother Jones highlights “Traplanta,” a “living portfolio of photographs” that capture the stark realities of Atlanta’s drug trade, from glimpses of day-glo strip clubs and diamond-encrusted grills to resolutely matter-of-fact portraits of neighborhood drug corners. The anonymous photographer behind the project describes his work as “Southern vernacular, urban reportage, fine art journalism.”

Friday August 21, 2020

PM Stories

‘Severe inhumanity’: California prisons overwhelmed by Covid outbreaks and approaching fires Sam Levin, The Guardian

COVID-19 outbreak at Folsom Prison spreads through 10% of inmates in two weeks Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times

Nearly half the population at Michigan prison tests positive for COVID-19 Angie Jackson, Detroit Free Press

‘Who is going to man the prison if everyone tests positive?’ Corrections officer union warns of dual threat facing federal prisons Luke Barr, ABC News

Coalition unveils DA platform aimed at ending mass incarceration in New Orleans Nicholas Chrastil, The Lens

A criminal justice reckoning in Maryland Jill P. Carter, Washington Post

Florida Inmates Serving Outdated Drug Sentences Released Early Following Reason Investigation CJ Ciaramella, Reason

John Oliver Shows How Racism Creeps Into Every Part of the Jury Selection Process Rachelle Hampton, Slate

The Enduring, Pernicious Whiteness of True Crime Elon Green, The Appeal

AM Stories

Biden Said, ‘Most Cops Are Good.’ But Progressives Want Systemic Change. Reid J. Epstein and John Eligon, New York Times

Criminal Justice Reform Advocates Don’t Plan To Let A Biden Administration Off The Hook Sanjana Karanth and Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, HuffPost

Some States Are Pushing Laws to Restrict Police Behavior Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal

What Does American Police Reform Actually Look Like? Celeste Little, Architectural Digest

Austin’s Vote to “Reimagine” Policing Prompts Threats From State Officials Jordan Smith, The Intercept

Newark went too far with civilian oversight of police, NJ Supreme Court rules Rebecca Panico and Blake Nelson, NJ.com

Sgt. Mullins Goes to War James D. Walsh, New York Magazine

Complaints against LAPD increased in 2019, but few resulted in discipline Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times

Police killings in WA should require impartial coroners Daniel Low and Rajneet Lamba, Crosscut

Thursday August 20, 2020

PM Stories

Coronavirus Death Toll from US Prisons and Jails Tops 1,000 Democracy Now!

As Covid-19 cases in prisons climb, data on race remain largely obscured Eileen Guo, STAT

As fire season bears down on thirsty California, incarcerated crews prepare to battle flames T. William Wallin, San Francisco Bay View

California severely short on firefighting crews after COVID-19 lockdown at prison camps Ryan Sabalow and Jason Pohl, Sacramento Bee

Prisoners Who Fight Wildfires in California: An Insider’s Look (2015) Eli Hager, The Marshall Project

Released felons under supervision are barred from voting. Let them be heard. (North Carolina) Henderson Hill, Raleigh News and Observer

Only Native American on Death Row Set to Be Executed on August 26 Felicia Fonseca, Time

Lezmond Mitchell’s Death Sentence Is an Affront to Navajo Sovereignty Carl Slater, New York Times

The man without a name Katya Cengel, Vox

The Untold Story of the Black Marines Charged With Mutiny at Sea John Ismay, New York Times

AM Stories

Coronavirus pandemic didn’t curb fatal police shootings, ACLU report finds Erik Ortiz, NBC News

Three Ways to Fix Toxic Policing Scientific American

California police reform push could shift the national conversation Jeremy B. White and Alexander Nieves, Politico

What’s Blocking Police Reform? Call It ‘Blue Fragility’ Kalfani Turè and Senaida Sharif, The Crime Report

The Inevitable Trump-Police Union Synthesis Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

Gov. Greg Abbott, other Texas leaders want to freeze property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets Juan Pablo Garnham and Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

Assault rifles and armored trucks: Illinois police agencies have obtained $4.7 million in military gear since Trump lifted Obama’s restrictions on a federal surplus program Jennifer Smith Richards and Stacy St. Clair, Chicago Tribune

Who should police the police? California struggles with civilian oversight of cops Nico Savidge, San Jose Mercury News

Portland’s Independent Police Review opens more than 40 investigations into alleged police misconduct at protests K. Rambo, The Oregonian

Lawsuits Show the High Cost of NYPD Abuse in the Bronx Jennifer Kelley, Amman Ahmad, Michael Forte, and David Acevedo, The Intercept

What ‘Defund The Police’ Means In A New York Neighborhood With High Homicide Rates and a History of Struggling for Justice Abigail Savitch-Lew, The Appeal

Officers Involved In Notorious Wrongful Conviction Aren’t On Prosecutor’s Do-Not-Call List Kira Lerner, The Appeal

Cops Who Charged Civil Rights Leaders With Felonies Try To Sideline Progressive Prosecutor Ryan J. Reilly, HuffPost

A police officer killed my father 27 years ago and went unpunished. It changed my life forever. Montinique Monroe, Vox

Wednesday August 19, 2020

PM Stories

Faulty thermometers, untrained screeners may have let COVID-19 into prisons, watchdog says Kim Christensen and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

‘No One Is Allowed Out’: How COVID-19 Is Spreading Through Wisconsin Prisons Arvind Dilawar, The Progressive

COVID-19 testing approach in Mississippi prisons ‘inadequate and dangerous,’ lawyer says Jerry Mitchell, Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Utah courts facing logjams as coronavirus pandemic wears on Taylor Stevens, Salt Lake Tribune

Courts dramatically rethink the jury trial in the era of the coronavirus Ann E. Marimow and Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post

The pandemic’s lone trial: How one local criminal case made it to verdict during the COVID shutdown Greg Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune

Jury trials resume in Oklahoma County; most don’t last the day Tim Willert, The Oklahoman

‘A national disgrace’: Holes in DNA databases leave crimes unsolved for decades Jon Schuppe, NBC News

‘Monsters were real’: Victims confront the Golden State Killer for first time Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post

“We suffered for 44 years”: Victims and families face Golden State Killer ahead of sentencing Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News

Cold-blooded or reformed? Clemency for a killer reopens a family’s wounds Kristi Sturgill, Los Angeles Times

What It Would Take To Abolish Prisons And The Police Emmanuel Johnson, The 1a

AM Stories

The Contours of Atlanta’s Policing Debate George Chidi, The Intercept

Police reform advocates scrutinize police unions, calling them obstacles to reform Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times

NYPD retirements surge, potentially averting police layoffs Erin Durkin, Politico

Why are America’s Women Police Chiefs Resigning? Dorothy Schulz, The Crime Report

Police Chiefs Most Open to Reform Are the Ones Leaving Alan Greenblatt, Governing

NYC to ‘Reassess’ Police Facial Recognition Software After Raid on BLM Activist Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas charged with felonies over Portsmouth’s Confederate Monument protest Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider, Washington Post

As Trump relaunches Countering Violent Extremism, records on past Illinois program reveal links to FBI, law enforcement Alex Ruppenthal and Asraa Mustufa, Chicago Reporter

Cops shot her in the eye with a rubber bullet. They plan to ‘shelve’ her statement for now Christina Saint Louis, Miami Herald

Coloradans dosed with ketamine during police confrontations – like Elijah McClain was – want investigation Michael de Yoanna, Colorado Sun

Hostage situations and rappelling out of helicopters: How police recruitment ads glamorize the role Daron Taylor and Luis Velarde, Wahsington Post

BET Her Sets ‘#SayHerName, Justice For Breonna Taylor’ Special, NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving To Produce Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline

Tuesday August 18, 2020

PM Stories

Dismiss Minor Misdemeanors During the Pandemic Michele Hall, The Atlantic

‘Over-Enforcement’ During Pandemic Drives More Homeless into Jail Nancy Bilyeau, The Crime Report

Poor training, faulty thermometers hurt California prisons’ COVID-19 response, report says Andrew Sheeler, Sacramento Bee

Nearly 200 Pardons Languish on Pennsylvania Governor’s Desk Joshua Vaughn, The Appeal

Greenville jail population increasing again as state stops processing prison inmates due to COVID-19 (South Carolina) Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News

Virus, fees hinder drive to register Florida felons to vote Terry Spencer, AP News

‘Words can’t explain how I feel’: Felons vote for first time since rights restoration C. Isaiah Smalls II, Miami Herald

The Militias Against Masks Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker

What do Boston Marathon bombing survivors want federal prosecutors to do next? David Abel, Laura Crimaldi, and Steve Annear, Boston Globe

Gun Violence Left a Mark on His Childhood. He Says People Like Him Should Lead Efforts to Reduce It. Ann Givens, The Trace

A rising basketball prodigy, a pandemic, a fatal shooting. The Semaj Miller story Emmanuel Morgan, Los Angeles Times

Killing the Truth Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone

Crime-Scene Photos Are Lizzie Borden’s Legacy Lindsey Fitzharris, Wall Street Journal

AM Stories

The movement to defund police has won historic victories across the US. What’s next? Sam Levin, The Guardian

Defund the police? It’s already happening thanks to the Covid-19 budget crunch Rebecca Rainey and Maya King, Politico

How to reform police liability without involving McConnell or Trump I Bennett Capers, John CP Goldberg, and Benjamin C Zipursky, Washington Post

6 steps to real, enduring police reform Tim Burgess, Seattle Times

Interest growing among police departments in training cops on how to intervene in police abuse Los Angeles Times

Maryland has a ‘unique moment’ to move critical police reforms forward, elected leaders say Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun

Record wave of deadly shootings hits US cities. More police aren’t the answer, activists say Trevor Hughes, USA Today

Failure of oversight: How dozens of officers kept their police certification despite convictions Gary A. Harki, Virginian-Pilot

The NYPD Is Withholding Evidence From Investigations Into Police Abuse Eric Umansky and Mollie Simon, ProPublica

How Northern California’s Police Intelligence Center Tracked Protests Micah Lee, The Intercept

The Cop Was the Hero in One Viral Video. Another Told a Different Story. Nicholas Casey, New York Times

Mobile crisis units in the Philly area take strain off police when dealing with mental-health incidents Bethany Ao, Philadelphia Inquirer

Monday August 17, 2020

PM Stories

The ‘Tough on Crime’ Ticket Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

Was Kamala Harris a Progressive Prosecutor? A Look at Her Time as a DA & California Attorney General Democracy Now!

Why Mass Incarceration Is Looming as a Campaign Issue Ryan Williams, Bloomberg

Inside the Prison Where California’s Coronavirus Outbreak Exploded John Thomason, The Intercept

Protesters hold vigil outside California prison secretary’s home as COVID-19 deaths climb Andrew Sheeler and Xavier Mascareñas, Sacramento Bee

California could cut its prison population in half and free 50,000 people. Amid pandemic, will the state act? Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle

Plan To Close Rikers And Build New Jails Faces Significant Delays JB Nicholas, Gothamist

Taking on the hardest cases – without DNA – and setting the innocent free Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Washington Post

How a New Jersey Divinity Student Helped Transform the Texas Criminal Justice System Michael Hall, Texas Monthly

NC Supreme Court pulls Racial Justice Act murder defendant off death row Paul Woolverton, Asheville Citizen-Times

Three men exonerated in notorious 1983 murder of Baltimore student file federal lawsuit against police officers Justin Fenton, Baltimore Sun

In Prison, Learning Magic by Mail Annalisa Quinn, New York Times

COVID Killed the Atlanta Drug Trade – for a Time. This Photographer Captured the Lull. Jamilah King, Mother Jones

AM Stories

We Should Still Defund the Police Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker

FBI’s tally of how often police use force has plenty of holes Tonya Alanez, Boston Globe

Far-right demonstrators, counter-protesters and police clash in multiple states Joel Shannon, USA Today

Downtown protest turns into violent clash between Chicago police and marchers, injuring dozens of officers and demonstrators Paige Fry, Chicago Tribune

Divisions over Chicago protests highlight challenges for activists and police Mark Guarino, Washington Post

A New York police union endorses Trump. Matt Stevens, New York Times

NYPD knows gender bias is a problem, “but they’re not willing to address it,” former chief says CBS News

NYPD Used Facial Recognition Technology In Siege Of Black Lives Matter Activist’s Apartment George Joseph and Jake Offenhartz, Gothamist

3 Mississippi Police Officers Charged With Murder of Black Man Michael Levenson and Marie Fazio, New York Times

After a police shootout in Tioga, a traumatized community began to heal. A year later, COVID has changed everything. Anna Orso, Philadelphia Inquirer

Fear of a Black Uprising Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, New Republic

The End of the Fictional Cop Stephen Kearse, The Atlantic

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 53

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: Pieces from Newsweek and the New York Times outline “top cop” Kamala Harris’s record of “policing the police.” In recent months, with a growing consensus building behind police reform, Harris has emerged as a prominent voice on issues of police misconduct. But she has struggled to reconcile her calls for reform with her record on these same issues during a long career in law enforcement, over which she developed a reputation for deference to police and for yielding to the status quo. And a piece from The New Yorker focuses on Minneapolis, where, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, city officials pledged to “end policing as we know it.” In July, five city-council members introduced a ballot measure to amend the city charter to allow for a radically different approach to public safety. But last week, the city’s charter commission refused, by a 10-5 vote, to allow the measure on November’s ballot, effectively delaying any action on the proposal until 2021. Now, the future of police “defunding” in Minneapolis – one of the most liberal constituencies in the country, and the epicenter of the mass protest movement – remains unclear.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A piece from The Marshall Project focuses on the US Marshals Service and its role in spreading COVID-19. Marshals are responsible for moving people into, out of, and among far-flung federal prisons, handling most long-distance transfers and newly sentenced prisoners. But whistleblowers say Marshals are not wearing masks, enforcing social distancing, or properly testing the prisoners in their care. In recent weeks, federal prisoners infected with the coronavirus have been shipped as far as Puerto Rico and shuffled around federal lock-ups in a handful of states, putting vulnerable inmates, prison staff, and their communities at risk. And a piece from Mother Jones focuses on Lexipol, a company that provides policy and training manuals to more than 8,000 public safety agencies around the country, including as many as 95% of law enforcement agencies in California. Lexipol markets itself as a way to decrease cities’ liability in police misconduct lawsuits, claiming that agencies that use its policies are sued less often and pay out smaller settlements. Critics say it accomplishes this with vague, permissive rules that meet bare-minimum legal requirements rather than holding officers to a higher standard.

In complex crime storytelling: The New York Times profiles Susan Burton, an advocate for formerly incarcerated women in Los Angeles, as she races against the clock to shelter those freed early because of the pandemic. And a piece from The Counter follows inmates at the Muskegon Correctional Facility in Michigan as they plan and prepare – using only “flimsy plastic knives, a single microwave, and empty popcorn bags” – a celebratory feast honoring the life of George Floyd.

And in culture/true crime: The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast follows currently and formerly incarcerated members of the Rikers Debate Project as they prepare to argue over one of the most critical topics of the day: defunding the police. The Texas Observer presents the winners of the 2020 Insider Prize, an annual essay contest for incarcerated writers in Texas. And The Nation interviews writers Victoria Law and Maya Schenwar, co-authors of the new book Prison by Any Other Name.

Friday August 14, 2020

PM Stories

The Blue Budget: What Cities Spend on Police Sinduja Rangarajan, Hannah Levintova, and Laura Thompson, Mother Jones

Texas’ largest cities spend more on police than anything else. Activists want more of those funds spent on the social safety net instead. Mandi Cai and Juan Pablo Garnham, Texas Tribune

Austin City Council votes to cut police department budget by one-third, reinvest money in social services Meena Venkataramanan, Texas Tribune

At Least 13 Cities Are Defunding Their Police Departments Jemima McEvoy, Forbes

US mayors identify police unions as an obstacle to reform Daniel Trotta, Reuters

The Infuriating History of Why Police Unions Have So Much Power Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Protesters Blocked ICE Buses in Oregon. Federal Agents Responded in Force. Mike Baker, New York Times

The Coronavirus Pipeline Anna-Catherine Brigida and Morena Pérez Joachin, Texas Observer

The ICE Facility Where Almost Every Detainee Has Coronavirus (Virginia) Katya Schwenk, The American Prospect

Cuban Man Died of Coronavirus in Private Prison Plagued by Medical Neglect Felipe De La Hoz, The Intercept

As Biden Promises to Rein In Private Prisons, They’re Throwing Money at Republicans Madison Pauly, Mother Jones

Men who wrongly served 36 years for murder sue Baltimore police, detectives, alleging pattern of misconduct Tom Jackman, Washington Post

The Disparate Financial Impact of the American Justice System Laura Bliss, Bloomberg

AM Stories

The Window for Major Police Reform Might Be Closing Zak Cheney-Rice, New York Magazine

Cities Weigh Cutting Police Budgets and Discover How Hard That Is Heather Gillers and Andrea Fuller, Wall Street Journal

California voters overwhelmingly support sweeping police reforms, new poll finds Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times

Defund the LAPD? At this pace, it would take 20 years to hit Black Lives Matter’s goal David Zahniser, Adam Elmahrek, and Priya Krishnakumar, Los Angeles Times

After the protests, lingering trauma: the scars of ‘non-lethal’ weapons Oscar Schwartz, The Guardian

Why are America’s Women Police Chiefs Resigning? Dorothy Schulz, The Crime Report

The Junk Science Cops Use to Decide You’re Lying Jordan Smith, The Intercept

How does technology fit into calls for police reform? Matt Reynolds, ABA Journal

Why Social Workers Cannot Work With Police Lori James-Townes, Slate

CBS Studios Selects Police-Reform Advisers for Cop, Legal Dramas Tim Baysinger, The Wrap

Thursday August 13, 2020

PM Stories

‘Con Air’ Is Spreading COVID-19 All Over the Federal Prison System Keegan Hamilton and Keri Blakinger, The Marshall Project

How ICE Data Undercounts COVID-19 Victims Dan Glaun, PBS

Judge orders ICE to stop transfers into Virginia facility hit hard by coronavirus Antonio Olivo, Washington Post

As coronavirus spreads in Washington’s prisons, here’s what a state watchdog says needs to change Joseph O’Sullivan and David Gutman, Seattle Times

I was freed from prison due to COVID-19 concerns. The governor should release many more. Luis Polanco, Jr., The Oregonian

San Quentin’s coronavirus outbreak shows why ‘herd immunity’ could mean disaster Rong-Gong Lin II and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times

Bad design kills: Why COVID-19 spread like wildfire at one of America’s worst prisons Nate Berg, Fast Company

California executions on hold, but coronavirus killing San Quentin inmates Jason Fagone and Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle

Navajo Nation Asks Trump To Commute Death Sentence Of Native Man Facing Execution Camila Domonoske, NPR

A longtime Philadelphia judge won’t wear a mask in court, prompting complaints from lawyers and witnesses Wendy Ruderman, Philadelphia Inquirer

Broward County Will Elect Its First New Prosecutor in 44 Years. Will the Office Veer Left? Jerry Iannelli, The Appeal

Criminal Justice Advocates Say New Law Undermines Georgia’s Efforts at Bail Reform Victoria Law, The Appeal

Racial Disparities Still Mar Probation, Parole Despite 14% Decline Michael Gelb, The Crime Report

Ending Mass Incarceration Is Only the Beginning Daniel Fernandez, The Nation

AM Stories

Why “Crime” Isn’t the Question and Police Aren’t the Answer Alec Karakatsanis, Current Affairs

Public Confidence in Police at Record Low: Gallup Michael Gelb, The Crime Report

How cities can tackle violent crime without relying on police Roge Karma, Vox

As nightly conflicts in Portland draw headlines, reforms gradually advance Courtney Sherwood, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Multnomah Co. DA’s office won’t prosecute many arrested in Portland protests Jim Ryan, The Oregonian

Colorado attorney general opens investigation into “patterns and practices” of Aurora Police Department Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun

Police body camera video of George Floyd’s arrest, final moments released to public USA Today

Body camera footage shows struggle leading to George Floyd’s fatal police encounter Holly Bailey, Dalton Bennett, Sarah Cahlan, and Elyse Samuels, Washington Post

Washington, DC, police union moves to block release of body cam footage Makini Brice, Reuters

‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks Tim Elfrink, Washington Post

Meet the Company That Writes the Policies That Protect Cops Madison Pauly, Mother Jones

How white people used police to make LA one of the most segregated cities in America Matthew Fleischer, Los Angeles Times

Wednesday August 12, 2020

PM Stories

A Short History of Biden VP Kamala Harris’ Record on Criminal Justice Meghan Roos, Newsweek

Harris and Biden once were at odds on criminal justice issues. Finding common ground helped lead him to pick her as his running mate. Michael Kranish, Washington Post

Give Kamala Harris a Break Peter Beinart, The Atlantic

San Francisco becomes first county in the nation to offer free calls to jail inmates Carla Marinucci, Politico

LA County Report Shows Arrests, Bookings Down Dramatically During COVID-19 Elizabeth Marcellino, City News Service

In Harris County, A Group is Working to Expand Voting Access in Jails Michael Barajas, Texas Observer

Minnesota nonprofit with $35M bails out those accused of violent crimes Tom Lyden, KMSP

In Missouri, a Rift Over Local Murder Prosecutions Andrea Noble, Route Fifty

Texas Judge Holds First Virtual Jury Trial in Criminal Case David Lee, Courthouse News

Don’t be fooled by the shiny new object of online jury trials Kathryn Dyer, Grits for Breakfast

A Prosecutor’s Success Story: Change Without Labels Jonathan Raven, The Crime Report

A man who was sentenced to life in prison for selling $30 of marijuana will be freed Kay Jones and Scottie Andrew, CNN

What Kinds of Crimes End Up on the Big Screen? Adam Janos, A&E

Upcoming Hulu True Crime Series Will Feature Michelle Carter’s Texting Suicide Case Mariel Loveland, The Mighty

“Nowhere Else To Go” Emily Kassie and Ben C. Solomon, The Marshall Project

AM Stories

How Stephen Miller Turned the Department of Homeland Security Into a Political Weapon Jean Guerrero, The Nation

The Whole Concept of ‘Unlawful Assembly’ Is a Mess Garrett Epps, The Atlantic 

Portland police declare riot Sunday after small crowd marches on police union The Oregonian

Trump sent agents to quell unrest. But protest is what Portland does best. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post

Taking Protest to the Streets, and the Mayor’s Front Door Mike Baker and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, New York Times

Seattle Police Chief to Resign as Council Pursues Ambitious Plan to Cut Budget Mike Baker, New York Times

Top Female Chief Quits, Accusing NYPD of Widespread Gender Bias Ashley Southall, New York Times

Cold as ICE: How Local Sheriffs Are Driving Trump’s Deportation Agenda Seth Freed Wessler, Mother Jones

“When does a Black face get the same equality?” Aurora, Denver police use force against Black people at higher rates than other races Elise Schmelzer, Denver Post

Just How Many Cops Are ‘Bad Apples’? Gregory D. Squires and James Austin, The Crime Report

Who Opposes Defunding the NYPD? These Black Lawmakers Jeffery C. Mays, New York Times

Abolish the Police? Those Who Survived the Chaos in Seattle Aren’t So Sure Nellie Bowles, New York Times

Tuesday August 11, 2020

PM Stories

COVID Has Reduced Prison Populations Around the World—Creating a Rare Chance to Fix the System Gavin Butler, Vice

Amid COVID-19, California releases some inmates doing time for murder. Advocates push to free more Richard Winton, Anita Chabria, and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times

Leaving Gun Towers and Barbed Wire for a Healing House Patricia Leigh Brown, New York Times

Breaking Out With A Bar of Soap Keri Blakinger, The Marshall Project

Prison’s Other Death Sentence (Washington) Levi Pulkkinen, Crosscut

We Must Change How Our Criminal Justice System Treats People with Mental Illness Christine Montross, Time

How Leander Perez’s Vicious Racism Backfired and Saved Jury Trials Lewis Beale, Daily Beast  

What a 1924 case from Montana says about dismissing the Flynn prosecution Dayna Zolle, Washington Post

The Rikers Debate Project The New Yorker Radio Hour

Announcing the 2020 Insider Prize Winners Texas Observer

AM Stories

Can Minneapolis Dismantle Its Police Department? Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker

California Eyes 11 Police Reforms After George Floyd’s Death CBS

Should police be in charge of traffic enforcement? In a suburb beset by racial inequities, lawmakers aren’t sure. (Maryland) Rebecca Tan, Washington Post

Baltimore Police ask legislature to help bring about police reform, more accountability in the wake of George Floyd Jessica Anderson and Pamela Wood, Baltimore Sun

Want to fix policing? Start with a better 911 system. Roge Karma, Vox

Milwaukee Police Chief Demoted After Questions Over Protest Response Daniel Victor, New York Times

Police Infiltration of Protests Undermines the First Amendment Sahil Singhvi, Brennan Center for Justice

Police unions show their hand Editorial Board, Boston Globe

NYPD cops ordered to do virtual interviews with police watchdog agency under penalty of suspension Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News

They Were Arrested During the Protests. Here’s What Happened Next. Ali Watkins, New York Times

SLO police ask DA to file 8 charges against protest leader Tianna Arata, including 5 felonies (California) Matt Fountain, San Luis Obispo Tribune

One tweet tried to identify a cop — then five people were charged with felony harassment Adi Robertson, The Verge

Will the stonewalling over the US Park Police killing of Bijan Ghaisar ever end? Editorial Board, Washington Post

‘Top Cop’ Kamala Harris’s Record of Policing the Police Danny Hakim, Stephanie Saul, and Richard A. Oppel Jr., New York Times

Monday August 10, 2020

PM Stories

The Federal Bureau of Prisons response to the coronavirus has been disastrous and deadly Natalie Chwalisz, Washington Post

As Bureau of Prisons Enters “Phase 9” Of COVID-19 Plan, BOP Staff Wonder If There Is A Real Plan Walter Pavlo, Forbes

Jails and prisons have reduced their populations in the face of the pandemic, but not enough to save lives Emily Widra and Peter Wagner, Prison Policy Initiative

“I Had Hit The Lottery”: Inmates Desperate To Get Out Of Prisons Hit Hard By The Coronavirus Are Racing To Court Zoe Tillman, BuzzFeed News

Inside the federal prison where three out of every four inmates have tested positive for coronavirus (Texas) Casey Tolan, Nelli Black, and Drew Griffin, CNN

The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what’s credited with protecting it. Jolie McCullough, Texas Tribune

California prison workers file grievance alleging unsafe conditions to prevent coronavirus outbreaks Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle

San Quentin State Prison guard dies from coronavirus Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times

The coronavirus is spiking in California’s youth prisons. So why isn’t the state letting young prisoners out? Joaquin Palomino and Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly 11,000 Florida inmates hit by COVID-19 Orlando Weekly

Many who have died of COVID-19 in Florida’s prisons were eligible for parole Grace Toohey, Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Prosecutor Race Plays Out In The Shadow Of Florida’s Retaliation Against Reform Samantha Schuyler, The Appeal 

Hawaii Imprisons Native Islanders at Astonishing Rates. This Election Could Start to Change That. Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Joe Arpaio Loses Arizona Primary to Reclaim His Old Job as Sheriff Hank Stephenson, New York Times

Flimsy plastic knives, a single microwave, and empty popcorn bags: How 50 inmates inside a Michigan prison prepared a feast to celebrate the life of George Floyd Tana Ganeva, The Counter

Justice Should Be Blind’: An Ethicist’s Case for Decarceration Brian Watt and Lakshmi Sarah, KQED

AM Stories

In Chicago, Federal Agents Hit the Streets as Homicides Spike Erin Ailworth and Sadie Gurman, Wall Street Journal

Federal push in Chicago begins to show up in new gun cases, some bypassing Cook County prosecutors Megan Crepeau, Jason Meisner, and Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune

Feds expand officer deployments to Memphis, St. Louis in anti-violence push Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips, USA Today

Federal officers may be leaving Portland, but federal charges will linger for many Adam Taylor, Washington Post

Utah Protesters Face Charges With Potential Life Sentence New York Times

‘I’m Not Scared’: She Faces Life in Prison After Allegedly Buying Red Protest Paint Kelly Weill, Daily Beast

Why It’s Not So Simple To Arrest The Cops Who Shot Breonna Taylor Jamiles Lartey, The Marshall Project

Police Unions Sue New York City Over Chokehold Ban Shan Li and Ben Chapman, Wall Street Journal

Private Company Moves to Profit From New York’s Police Reforms Alice Speri, The Intercept

Sheriff Apologizes to Family of Inmate Who Died After Being Restrained Azi Paybarah, New York Times

Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in US History? Lawrence Roberts, New York Times

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 52

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: Pieces from The Intercept and The Appeal highlight major gains for the progressive prosecutor movement in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries. In both Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, and Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Michigan, longtime prosecutors with punitive records retired this year, triggering competitive three-way Democratic primaries to replace them. And in both, the most progressive candidate – civil rights attorney Eli Savit in Michigan, and former public defender Laura Conover in Arizona – prevailed on Tuesday. A piece from HuffPost focuses on St. Louis, Missouri, where reformist prosecutor Kim Gardner defeated a Democratic challenger in Tuesday’s primary race, all but ensuring her reelection in the general election this fall.

This week, Illinois and Iowa also saw important steps toward criminal justice reform. The Chicago Tribune reported that last Friday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced a planned overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system, the hallmark of which is a move from “adult-style, prisonlike facilities” to smaller, “community-based” regional facilities. And the Des Moines Register reported that on Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed an executive order restoring voting rights to as many as 60,000 people with felony convictions living in the state. Iowa had been the last state to categorically deny such rights to the formerly incarcerated. The order does not require the prepayment of restitution, fines, or fees.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice reveals how COVID-19 is “turning prison terms into death sentences.” A piece from the Washington Post focuses on the federal BOP. Since the pandemic began, the BOP has released about 7,000 inmates – roughly 4% of the federal prison population. But the bureau has largely disregarded one method it has to release inmates, a procedure that seems ideally suited for the pandemic: compassionate release. Part of bipartisan legislation passed in 2018, compassionate release was intended as a way to quickly grant release to inmates who are terminally ill or for other “extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Yet even as it has released some prisoners to home confinement, the BOP has routinely opposed or ignored requests for compassionate release. A piece from the New York Times focuses on New York, where, even during the pandemic, the state has continued to jail parolees for technical violations as minor as missing curfew. Newsweek highlights the growing consensus behind prison releases during the pandemic. A recent poll found that two-thirds of Americans support moving non-violent offenders out of prison due to the risks posed by COVID-19. The conversation is different, though, when it comes to people convicted of violent crimes. KQED reports that even during the pandemic, some prison releases still pose a political risk. The piece focuses on California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to release thousands of state prisoners has come under fire from criminal justice hardliners as a threat to public safety, even as advocates say it does not go far enough. And a piece from FiveThirtyEight also focuses on the misguided fears and misconceptions surrounding violent crime. For the last 30 years, the violent crime rate has been in steady decline; but Americans consistently believe that crime is rising, and perceive our personal risk of victimization to be much higher than it really is. Even the concept of a “crime rate,” which compresses all nuance and complexity into a single statistic, can be messy and misleading.

In complex crime storytelling: A piece from New York Magazine focuses on Urooj Rahman, the young Brooklyn lawyer who now faces federal charges and a nonnegotiable sentence of 45 years to life for throwing a Bud Light bottle, filled with gasoline and lit with a toilet-paper fuse, through the broken window of a parked, abandoned cop car. Mother Jones profiles Kevin Sawyer, associate editor of the San Quentin News, who has been chronicling San Quentin’s massive COVID outbreak from the inside. And the New York Times reports from rural Sedalia, Missouri, where 25-year-old Hannah Fizer was killed by a sheriff’s deputy during a traffic stop in June. Though people in rural areas are killed in police shootings at about the same rate as in cities, victims’ families and activists say they have struggled to get justice or even make themselves heard.

And in culture/true crime: In an interview with New York Magazine, Liz Garbus, director of HBO’s Golden State Killer docuseries I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, discusses her filmmaking process, the ethics of recreating real-life violence onscreen, and “the relationship between a filmmaker and the survivors of a no-longer-living subject who have trusted her to tell their loved one’s story.” And the Los Angeles Times interviews the directors of Immigration Nation, a new Netflix docuseries that gives a rare inside look at the machinery of ICE and the bureaucratic maze of America’s immigration system. Filmed between the spring of 2017 and the winter of 2019, Immigration Nation documents “the implementation of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration framework, a central theme in his 2016 campaign, and its effect on the migrants who must grapple with it — casting the lens on the enforcers and the immigrants.”

Friday August 7, 2020

PM Stories

New York Attorney General Sues to Dissolve the NRA Will Van Sant, The Trace

The Fall of the NRA Adam Winkler, New Republic

Black Lives Matter movement sparks ‘collective awakening’ on marijuana policies Natalie Fertig, Politico

As Decriminalization Drives Reforms For Marijuana Convictions, Activists See Others Serving Time Left Behind Tana Ganeva, The Appeal

California plans early release of many more prison inmates due to coronavirus Los Angeles Times

One Journalist Is Chronicling San Quentin’s Huge COVID-19 Outbreak – While Locked Inside Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Can Jurors Save the Justice System? James M. Doyle, The Crime Report

Illinois Has Promised to “Infuse Love” in Its Juvenile Justice System, but What Will Actually Change? Duaa Eldeib, ProPublica

Violence at Rikers at an ‘All-Time High’ Despite City’s Promise to Curb It Benjamin Weiser, New York Times

How Prison Turned My Childhood Friend Into a Neo-Nazi Christopher Blackwell, The Marshall Project

When it comes to executions, do Black lives matter? Frank Green, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott Calls for Release of Black Death Row Inmate Julius Jones Sean Gregory, Time

AM Stories

Progressive Prosecutor Movement Makes Major Gains in Democratic Primaries Ryan Grim and Akela Lacy, The Intercept

A Federal Judge Challenges the Supreme Court to Say Black Lives Matter Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

Incremental Change Is a Moral Failure Mychal Denzel Smith, The Atlantic

Minneapolis Push to ‘Defund,’ Overhaul Police Department Is Killed for Now Joe Barrett, Wall Street Journal

Minneapolis Board Blocks Police Reform Measure From November Ballot Karen Robinson-Jacobs, Forbes

As coronavirus spreads through nation’s jails and prisons, lawmakers demand more transparency on toll Tonya Simpson and Luke Barr, ABC News

California Ups COVID-19 Early Inmate Release Estimate Amid Objections KPIX

ACLU Launches Effort to Free 50,000 State Prisoners The Crime Report

Gov. Pritzker’s juvenile justice reform helps. Now broaden it. Emily Buss, Chicago Tribune  

A Family Cries ‘Justice for Hannah.’ Will Its Rural Town Listen? Jack Healy, New York Times

Louisiana Supreme Court won’t review life sentence for man convicted of attempting to steal hedge clippers Nicholas Chrastil, The Lens

Whose Streets? Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones

Thursday August 6, 2020

PM Stories

How California reduced its inmate population to a 30-year low Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle

Even in Pandemic, Prison Releases Pose Political Risk Marisa Lagos, KQED

Split 5 to 4, Supreme Court Rules for California Jail Over Virus Measures Adam Liptak, New York Times

San Quentin faces California’s deadliest prison outbreak after latest COVID fatalities Abené Clayton, The Guardian

My Friend Died in San Quentin Due to COVID-19. His Death Was Entirely Preventable. Adnan Khan, The Appeal

More than 500 inmates at Arizona prison test positive for COVID-19, according to corrections officials April Siese, CBS News

Woman asked for compassionate release. The prison refused. She just died of COVID-19 Carli Teproff, Miami Herald

Punishment by Pandemic Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Progressives Score New Wins in Prosecutor Elections, Adding to the Movement’s Breadth Daniel Nichanian, The Appeal

The progressive prosecutors blazing a new path for the US justice system Daniel A. Medina, The Guardian

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs executive order restoring felon voting rights, removing Iowa’s last-in-the-nation status Stephen Gruber-Miller and Ian Richardson, Des Moines Register

Oregon Could Become The First State To Decriminalize Drugs Paul Blumenthal, HuffPost

Federal court rules not all Colorado drug convictions can lead to deportation, prevent green card approval Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun

Inside ‘Immigration Nation,’ the Netflix docuseries ICE didn’t want you to see Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times

Netflix Targets the ‘World’s Most Wanted’ Criminals Nick Schager, Daily Beast

The Making of a Molotov Cocktail Lisa Miller, New York Magazine

AM Stories

Trump After Portland Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic

The Constitutional Case Against Trump’s Use of the Department of Homeland Security Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Federal Forces in Chicago The New Yorker

I’m the Police Chief in Portland. Violence Isn’t the Answer. Chuck Lovell, New York Times

US prosecutors do not charge Portland protesters with antifa ties Mark Hosenball, Reuters

Federal judge pens scathing opinion on qualified immunity: ‘Let us waste no time in righting this wrong’ Jamie Ehrlich and Ariane de Vogue, CNN

Amnesty International Documents 125 Incidents Of Police Violence Against Protesters Laurel Wamsley, NPR

The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them? Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

To Cut Police Budgets, Start In Public Schools Aaron Stagoff-Belfort, The Appeal

The AFL-CIO’s Untenable Stance on Cops Kim Kelly, New Republic

Did Officials Ignore the Obvious in Elijah McClain’s Death? Alan Prendergast, Westword

Philly police actions on 52nd Street under investigation, but distrust of cops keeps some witnesses silent Jason Laughlin and Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer  

Colorado police apologize over viral video of officers handcuffing Black girls in a mistaken stop Teo Armus, Washington Post

In Albany, marijuana arrests fall almost entirely on Black residents Steve Hughes, Albany Times-Union

Wednesday August 5, 2020

PM Stories

Kim Gardner, Progressive St. Louis Prosecutor Targeted By Trump, Fends Off Dem Challenger Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

Joe Arpaio, Jerry Sheridan in dead heat for Maricopa County primary race KTAR

A Historic Supreme Court Ruling Upends Courts in Oklahoma Jack Healy, New York Times

Oklahoma AG Seeks Guidance on Criminal Appeals After High Court Ruling David Lee, Courthouse News 

Should NY Be Jailing Parolees for Minor Lapses During a Pandemic? Ginia Bellafante, New York Times 

Probation and Parole ‘Feed Mass Incarceration’: Report Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Incarceration And Its Disseminations: COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons From Chicago’s Cook County Jail Eric Reinhart and Daniel L. Chen, Health Affairs

Virus rate in prisons seen as US’ worst John Moritz, Arkansas Online

2 More San Quentin Prisoners Die Of Suspected Virus Complications CBS

He had a ‘heart of gold’: Florida corrections officer is second to die of COVID-19 Samantha J. Gross, Miami Herald

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’s Liz Garbus on the Power of Point of View Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Magazine

AM Stories

Nine Elections This Week Could Upend Criminal Justice Nationwide Daniel Nichanian, The Appeal

Homicide Spike Hits Most Large US Cities Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal

The murder spike in big US cities, explained German Lopez, Vox

The Mayor Blames the Virus for Shootings. Here’s What Crime Data Shows. (New York) Alan Feuer, New York Times

Tear Gas Bans: A Policing Change Not Gaining Traction Lindsay Van Ness, PEW

Distrust of the Minneapolis Police, and Also the Effort to Defund Them John Eligon, New York Times

George Floyd protests: Black police officers see fight for racial justice through personal lens Alene Tchekmedyian and Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times

Ferguson Prepared America For This Moment Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

Some autopsies remain secret for years. Families of those killed by police want that changed Matt Hamilton and Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times

When You Have Diabetes, Even a Routine Police Encounter Can Turn Fatal Natalie Shure, The Nation

Half of Oklahoma Is Now Indian Territory. What Does That Mean for Criminal Justice There? Cary Aspinwall and Graham Lee Brewer, The Marshall Project

Patrolling Minneapolis’s Native American History Krithika Varagur, New York Review of Books

Tuesday August 4, 2020

PM Stories

Covid-19 Is Turning Prison Terms into Death Sentences Lauren-Brooke Eisen and Ruth Sangree, Brennan Center for Justice

Frail inmates could be sent home to prevent the spread of covid-19. Instead, some are dying in federal prisons. Justin Wm. Moyer and Neena Satija, Washington Post

As Coronavirus Deaths Spike in Prisons, Americans Want Offenders Moved Out Chantal Da Silva, Newsweek

Prison Reform Bills Will Offer Early Release, End Mandatory Minimum Sentences (New Jersey) Colleen O’Dea, NJ Spotlight

Protesters call for release of inmates at risk of COVID at Fort Worth federal prison Emerson Clarridge, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Oklahoma moves toward phasing out private prisons Keaton Ross, The Oklahoman

Disregarding the Virus and Victims’ Families, Trump Rushes to Execute as Many People as Possible Liliana Segura, The Intercept

A Vast Racial Gap in Death Penalty Cases, New Study Finds Adam Liptak, New York Times

Law to Reduce Crack Cocaine Sentences Leaves Some Imprisoned Hailey Fuchs, New York Times

How to Tell If Your DA is ‘Progressive’ Michael Gelb, The Crime Report

The good ol’ sheriff (Georgia) Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post

How Joe Arpaio’s Fate in Arizona Could Be a Window Into Trump’s Hank Stephenson, New York Times

AM Stories

Playing War While Dressed to Kill in Portland Andrew McCormick, The Nation

With No Federal Agents on Streets, Portland Protests Turn Largely Peaceful Alicia A. Caldwell, Wall Street Journal

Portland protesters have almost no interaction with state police as thousands gather downtown Adam Taylor, Washington Post

‘Is There Going to Be Another Portland?’ Zack Stanton, Politico

The Problem With “Community Policing” Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law, Slate

Why Police Should Embrace Communities – Not Shut Them Out (2018) Cedric Alexander, The Marshall Project

The Secretive Source of Cash Police Unions Use to Block Reform Real News Network

These Remarks Might Get a Police Chief Fired. Not in New York. Emma G. Fitzsimmons, New York Times

The NYPD Took a Step Toward Fascism When It Kidnapped Nikki Stone Tiffany Cabán, The Nation

Seattle City Council members propose police layoffs but say they can’t defund by 50% right away Daniel Beekman, Seattle Times

LA County deputy alleges ‘Executioner’ gang dominates Compton sheriff station Alene Tchekmedyian and Maya Lau, Los Angeles Times

How long does it take to finish an investigation into a pathetic Philadelphia detective? Too long. Helen Ubiñas, Philadelphia Inquirer

Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The US. They’re Wrong. Maggie Koerth and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, FiveThirtyEight

Monday August 3, 2020

PM Stories

Rikers Island Worker Blows Whistle On COVID-19 Risk In Infamous New York Jail Jessica Schulberg, Huffington Post

Coronavirus cases, deaths at San Quentin prison blamed on mismanagement Jacob Ward, NBC News

An inmate tested positive for COVID-19. Prison staff housed him with uninfected inmates, he says Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times

23 Ohio Death Row Inmates Test Positive For Coronavirus CBS

Thousands are in limbo as Philly courts remain mostly stalled by coronavirus: ‘It’s just been mass confusion’ Samantha Melamed, Philadelphia Inquirer

Virtual Hearings Have Created A ‘Caste System’ In America’s Courts Elizabeth Brico, The Appeal

Youth Corrections Chiefs, Prosecutors Call for Shutting ‘Inhumane’ Youth Prisons Michael Gelb, The Crime Report

Gov. JB Pritzker lays out plan to overhaul state’s juvenile justice system, shift to smaller, ‘community-based’ regional facilities Jamie Munks, Chicago Tribune

Ruling renews fairness debate in Boston Marathon bomber case Jim Mustian and Wilson Ring, AP News

Why was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence overturned? Milton J. Valencia and Tonya Alanez, Boston Globe

Imprisoned for nearly 50 years, man convicted of murder as a teen is free, seeks new trial Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe

‘I’ll Be Gone In The Dark’ And The Psychological Ramifications Of A True Crime Obsession Leigh Blickley, Huffington Post

AM Stories

As More Federal Agents Enter American Cities, Local Leaders Can’t Keep Them In Line Simone Weichselbaum, The Marshall Project

How the DHS Can Still Arrest Journalists in Portland Ken Klippenstein, The Nation

All Police Can Be Secret Police Melissa Gira Grant, New Republic

Our criminal justice system must be free from systemic racism. As a former prosecutor, I know it isn’t. Chris M. Mattei, Hartford Courant

‘Perfect storm’: Defund the police, COVID-19 lead to biggest police budget cuts in decade Kevin Johnson and Kristine Phillips, USA Today

New Jersey, Connecticut Weigh Reforms on Police Accountability, Use of Force The Crime Report

California considers strict ‘George Floyd’ law to punish police who fail to intervene Anita Chabria, Los Angeles Times

Activists Push for Community-Led Gun Violence Prevention in a Southern City Scarred by Racist Policing Chris Brownlee, The Trace

As violence surges, Chicago police try a new version of an old solution. Can it work? Dan Hinkel and Jeremy Gorner, Chicago Tribune

No Charges for Ferguson Officer Who Killed Michael Brown, New Prosecutor Says John Eligon, New York Times

Six years later, Bell reviews Michael Brown case, reaches same conclusion as DOJ Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Data doesn’t support De Blasio, NYPD claim that shooting surge is due to court shutdown Craig McCarthy and Julia Marsh, New York Post

Crime Story Daily Highlights – Week 51

This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.

On the criminal justice policy front: A piece from The Marshall Project highlights one city’s experiment with police reform. Last year, officials in Olympia, Washington decided that they would not always send police officers to handle routine, nonviolent incidents involving residents with mental illness or addiction. Instead, the city dispatches unarmed, non-uniformed “crisis responders” to diffuse the situation and connect the individual with help or social services. Police officials support the program because it allows their officers to focus on violent crime, while justice reformers say it reduces the chances of police brutality. In a New York Times op-ed, San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin outlines the role of local prosecutors in implementing and enforcing meaningful police reform. A piece from Politico focuses on California, where voters will soon weigh a ballot initiative to impose stricter sentencing and parole laws. After years of rollbacks, supporters of Proposition 20 had seen November as an opportunity to reimpose harsher crime laws – and, with property crimes on the rise, believed voters would be receptive. But then came the coronavirus, which has drawn attention to inmates – disproportionately people of color – packed into prisons and jails; and the killing of George Floyd, which launched police brutality and systemic racism into the national spotlight. Even as supporters of the measure reshape their message to fit the current mood, they now face an uphill battle in November, and the conversation around criminal justice in California – a state with a notoriously punitive past – has noticeably changed. And the New York Times reports from New Jersey, where lawmakers are considering landmark legislation that could reduce the state’s prison population by as much as 20%. The bill – the first legislative initiative of its kind in the US – would apply to inmates sentenced for violent crimes, and could free as many as 3,000 prisoners months before their release dates.

In muckraker/watchdog reporting: This week, CBS reported that the federal Bureau of Prisons reached a grim milestone: 100 inmate deaths from coronavirus. Since the pandemic began, more than 10,000 federal inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. A piece from the Brennan Center examines the procedural hurdles and tough legal standards preventing incarcerated people from seeking relief in federal court. In a piece for the Washington Post, a journalist incarcerated at California’s San Quentin State Prison recounts his own experience of contracting COVID-19. The ongoing outbreak at San Quentin has affected more than half of the prison’s population, including nearly one quarter of those on death row; to date, eight death row prisoners have died from complications related to COVID-19, comprising half of the prison’s total fatalities. A piece from Slate highlights the role of California’s Democratic attorney general, Xavier Becerra. Becerra is often heralded as a “hero of the left” due to his numerous legal battles against the Trump administration; but back home, he has fought to keep prisoners on California’s overcrowded death row, sending his deputies into court to uphold death penalty convictions – including those involving egregious prosecutorial misconduct, false testimony, and racially biased arguments.

In complex crime storytelling: The Marshall Project constructs an “oral history” of the execution of Daniel Lewis Lee – the first federal execution in the United States since 2003 – as told by prison inmates and staff, the families of Lee’s victims, and the reporters selected to cover his death. And the Washington Post recounts a tense police encounter in a poor, racially-segregated neighborhood of Huntsville, Alabama. Thomas Parker, a white patrol officer with the Huntsville Police Department, had just completed a mandated de-escalation training when he received a call: a Black woman, clearly mentally ill and armed with a gun, was ranting and slamming doors at an apartment complex. This type of call was not unusual; as funding for psychiatric services has been slashed, police departments across the country are fielding more mental health calls, with de-escalation seminars standing in for trained social workers or crisis response teams. These calls are among the most likely to end in violence: in Alabama, police have fatally shot at least 26 mentally ill people since 2015. Four of those shootings happened in Huntsville, which spends $51 million a year on police and $800,000 on behavioral health programs; three of the victims were Black. These statistics were top-of-mind for Parker as he arrived at a scene of chaos, with cell phone cameras recording his every move. After many tense moments and a series of split-second decisions, the call ended peacefully, with no shots fired and no one hurt. It was, in the end, a routine call, and an example of the type of policing fraught with peril for both cops and the communities they serve.

And in culture/true crime: A piece from BuzzFeed reflects on the past, present, and future of true crime. As Americans grapple with the legacy of systemic racism in our legal, political, and cultural institutions, the problems with true crime – from its “unbearable” whiteness to its uncritical faith in and reliance on the criminal justice system – have become clearer and harder to ignore. The piece calls for a broader rethinking of the way we tell true-crime stories – and of whose true-crime stories get told. A piece from the Chicago Tribune focuses on the world of crime fiction. In a field historically dominated by white authors and protagonists, the current moment presents unique challenges – and opportunities – for crime writers of color seeking to diversify the genre. And the New York Times highlights five true-crime podcasts that focus on racial justice, including “Somebody,” a seven-part investigation into the mysterious 2016 death of 22-year-old Courtney Copeland. What sets the show apart is its host, Shapearl Wells, who is Copeland’s mom.

Friday July 31, 2020

PM Stories

Tensions are boiling over between Philly DA Larry Krasner and bail reform advocates Chris Palmer, Philadelphia Inquirer

Four of largest ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in Colorado are in prisons, jails Meg Wingerter, Denver Post

San Quentin Prison pandemic conditions a ‘living hell’ for inmates MSNBC

Two more inmates die in Kentucky state prisons, bringing COVID-19 death toll to eight John Cheves, Lexington Herald-Leader

‘Can I get out of here before I die?’: Virus slows, but did NJ do enough to keep inmates safe? Stacey Barchenger, NorthJersey.com

A Woman’s Place J. Malcolm Garcia, Guernica

Prosecutors Condemn ‘Myopic’ Approach to Punishment Andrea Cipriano, The Crime Report

Eleven Prosecutors Form a Progressive Alliance in Virginia Daniel Nichanian, The Appeal

Planting Justice’s Prison Abolition Work Starts at the Root Nastia Voynovskaya, KQED

AM Stories

The Hijacking of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, New York Times

How DHS Went to War With the American People Mary Harris, Slate

Federal agents, officers head to Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee as Operation Legend expands Kristine Phillips, USA Today

A Window to Rein in DHS Carrie Cordero and Elizabeth Goitein, Just Security

Federal Agencies Agree to Withdraw From Portland, With Conditions Mike Baker and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, New York Times

What Has Happened to Police Filmed Hurting Protesters? So Far, Very Little. Zipporah Osei and Mollie Simon, ProPublica

‘It was like a kidnapping’: Viral video shows NYPD officers forcing protester into unmarked van Allyson Chiu and Shayna Jacobs, Washington Post

Judge Lifts Ban on NYCLU Releasing Police Discipline Records NBC New York

Here Are The Current NYPD Officers With The Most Substantiated Misconduct Complaints George Joseph, Christopher Robbins, and Jake Offenhartz, Gothamist

Hundreds of cases involving LAPD officers accused of corruption now under review Kevin Rector, James Queally, and Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times

Some US police resist enforcing coronavirus mask mandates Andrew DeMillo, ABC News

As US police struggle to recruit, young cops seek more humane approach Andrea Shalal and Angela Moore, Reuters

Can Next-Generation Cops Spur Policing Reform? The Crime Report

The Defund Movement Aims to Change the Policing and Prosecution of Domestic Violence Jessica Pishko, The Appeal

Flashback: 19,500 arrests and dozens of gunfights? The legendary claims – and ego – of Clifton R. Wooldridge, the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Chicago’ John Mark Hansen, Chicago Tribune