By Tamar R. Birckhead
The U.S. Supreme Court has again deflected an effort to clarify whether its landmark 2012 decision in Miller v. Alabama banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles should be applied retroactively. It was the second time this term and at least the fourth time since June. The Court’s December 1 refusal to hear an appeal of an Illinois Supreme Court ruling allowing for retroactive application means that at least 80 of the 100 inmates serving juvenile life without parole in that state will now have an opportunity for resentencing.
But the fate of an estimated 2,000 individuals across the United States who are currently serving mandatory life-without-parole sentences for homicide offenses committed as minors still remains unclear.
By Adair Iacono
When Orange Is the New Black started getting lots of attention, I was struck by the perversity of it all: millions of Americans are incarcerated right now, many for crimes far less serious, knowing, and incredibly avoidable than carrying drug money, and it’s only a marketable story when people realize it can happen to a pretty, white, educated woman? Viewed in a certain light, Piper Kerman’s story is an instance of justice being color- and class-blind—a system success story, in that it demonstrates that punishment can sometimes be meted out just as harshly to a woman like her as it is daily to people of color. Increased severity is not the way most of us would hope to see the American justice system achieve racial parity, I grant you, but it is one way to go about it.
By Robin L. Barton
They say a picture paints a thousand words. But in this technological age, a mere photo just isn’t good enough. The Ray Rice domestic violence case shows that, apparently, people now need a video before they believe something happened, or that an event was as serious as described.
By David J. Krajicek
The evolution of breaking news coverage stood out like an appositional thumb during the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo.
Ferguson affirmed Twitter’s position as the piston that drives the engine of spot-news journalism. Hundreds of people, including reporters, citizens, law enforcers and representatives of “observer’ organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), were serial-tweeting from Ferguson during the most contentious mid-August nights in the St. Louis suburb.
By Robin L. Barton
Have you ever have a really bad day at work and indulged yourself in a detailed daydream of how you’d torture and maybe even kill your awful boss á la the movie “Horrible Bosses”? Maybe you even shared this fantasy with a like-minded co-worker over drinks. Based on your daydream, should you be arrested for planning or conspiring to commit a crime? Or are such fantasies a harmless way to deal with job frustrations, sexual desires and other feelings?
By Timothy J. McNulty
The cat-and-mouse Edward Snowden/National Security Agency (NSA) scandal has fueled the summertime news cycle with a high tech—though drawn-out— version of a police chase. Reporters flocked to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport to search for the contractor who revealed secret NSA surveillance activities, and booked seats on flights to countries where Snowden might find refuge from the long arm of the United States government—only to discover he was a no-show.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic posturing of Latin American officials who feel the U.S. is bullying them into refusing asylum to Snowden added a side drama to media coverage of the actual crime—assuming that the courts will judge his actions a crime.
By Julie Stewart
A new bipartisan task force comprising members of the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing this month to examine the growing problem known as overcriminalization.
I was cautiously optimistic when I first learned of the task force’s creation, because I believe that the explosion of federal criminal laws—many of which are vague and carry lengthy mandatory minimum sentences – has done more harm than people realize.
By Jamie and Anne Isaacs
Most public schools are still turning a blind eye to the bullying epidemic.
It remains a tragedy that teens are harassed and ridiculed because they are smart, talented, or creative— or because their religion, sex or color differs from the person or persons that have targeted them.
By Alyce McGovern
With pressure on police to increase public confidence and reduce community concerns over crime, social media has emerged as a valuable tool for improving communication between organizations and their “customers” — the public.
By Ted Gest
Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report, looks back on a decade of providing the Internet's only daily digest of important developments in criminal justice. It continues to reflect not only the economic challenges facing the nation’s criminal justice system, but the similar challenges to journalism itself.