Criminal (in)justice podcast Episodes

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Episode Title Description Release Date and Day
86 #55: Mandatory Minimums: Judgment Without Justice Being a federal judge is a lawyer’s dream job – lifetime tenure, sophisticated cases, and a good salary, too. So why did Kevin Sharp, a well-respected federal trial judge, give all this up just six years in?

Mandatory minimums are a problem for a lot of people on both sides of American courts, especially in the age of Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump. mp3

2017-06-20 Tuesday
85 Bonus: What is Obstruction of Justice, Anyway? Three words you may have been hearing a lot lately: "obstruction of justice." What's the legal definition of obstruction? How is it prosecuted? And could a charge like that ever apply to President Donald Trump? David has answers. mp3 2017-06-15 Thursday
84 #54: License Plates As Mass Surveillance Tools? They’re called Automatic License Plate Readers: high speed cameras on police cars and light poles, capturing plate numbers. They’re great for spotting stolen cars, or wanted drivers – but when did they become tools for watching the rest of us? mp3 2017-06-13 Tuesday
83 #53: Forensic Science is No 'Science' at All Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of federal efforts to fix forensic science in April, but not because the problems were solved. Why stop these efforts now, just as better scientific standards were emerging? And what will it mean for wrongful convictions?

John Hollway, associate dean and executive director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, explains. mp3

2017-06-06 Tuesday
82 #52: The Conservative Case for Criminal Justice Reform Criminal justice reform – it’s always been a liberal issue. But in the last few years, reform efforts have started to emerge on the right too. It’s one of the few issues seeing bipartisan agreement in our polarized country. mp3 2017-05-30 Tuesday
81 Bonus: What to Watch For in the Cosby Trial With a jury now seated for the rape trial of Bill Cosby, we preview some of the arguments prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to make. mp3 2017-05-25 Thursday
80 #51: Weaponized Flying Robocops are Watching You Drones were developed as weapons of war, but they've begun to find their way into domestic police work as well. They could help officers trace suspects or missing persons or assess threats like toxic spills, but they also pose a threat to privacy.

Matthew Feeney of the Cato Institute says those technological toys come with some serious concerns. mp3

2017-05-23 Tuesday
79 Bonus: The Sessions Memo Analysis of Attorney General Jeff Sessions's May 10th memo directing federal prosecutors to pursue the strictest charges and the harshest sentences "the evidence supports." mp3 2017-05-17 Wednesday
78 #50: Establishing Innocence After a Guilty Verdict The exposure of wrongful convictions began in 1989, and it upended the idea that guilty verdicts were always trustworthy. When there’s a wrongful conviction, what has to happen to get a court to exonerate someone?

Marissa Boyers Bluestine is the Litigation Director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and she tells us what it’s really like, on the ground, working to establish innocence – after a guilty verdict. mp3

2017-05-16 Tuesday
77 Bonus: What You Need to Know About the Comey Firing President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey has serious implications for the relationship between the FBI and the White House. What should we keep in mind as the story unfolds? mp3 2017-05-11 Thursday
76 #49: Why Policing Without Permission Is Everyone's Fault The last few years have exposed problems in policing: use of force, high-tech surveillance, and a lack of transparency.

NYU Law Professor Barry Friedman argues that the fault for this lies not just with the police, or the courts – it’s on us. mp3

2017-05-09 Tuesday
75 Bonus: What We Mean When We Talk About Lethal Injection Arkansas is rushing to carry out eight executions in just two weeks. Why the hurry? The lethal injection drugs used by the state are nearing their expiration date. mp3 2017-05-04 Thursday
74 #48: Stingrays Spies The Stingray is a new technology that allows police to gather all the cell phone signals in a whole area at any time – without a warrant, and without any accountability. And if you ask for information about it: permission denied. mp3 2017-05-02 Tuesday
73 #47: High-Speed Chases: Worth the Cost? High-speed pursuits are among the riskiest police activities. Some pursuits catch bad guys, but in others, many thousands have been killed or severely injured – including innocent civilians. Are chases worth the deaths and injuries to citizens and officers? mp3 2017-04-25 Tuesday
72 #46: What Citizens in High Crime Areas Think About Police Americans who live in areas facing high rates of crime are portrayed as anti-police, but a new study shows something far different: strong respect for the law and a willingness to help with public safety.

Journalist Brentin Mock reports on these misconceptions for CityLab and others. mp3

2017-04-18 Tuesday
71 #45: Juries: Who Gets to Serve? In the U.S., juries stand apart: twelve ordinary citizens who bring justice to the downtrodden, and common sense to the law. But who actually gets to serve on juries – and who doesn’t? Do some types of people get removed from the jury pool more than others – and why does this matter? New research on the make up of juries. mp3 2017-04-11 Tuesday
70 #44: What Should It Sound Like When Police Departments Apologize To Communities of Color? Racial reconciliation – an attempt to speak plainly about racial strife between police and citizens of color – is a necessary step toward comprehensive police reform. It’s important, and no doubt difficult – but what does it actually look and feel like on the ground?

Aseante Hylick builds these conversations across the U.S. mp3

2017-04-03 Monday
69 Bonus: The Trouble With ICE Detainers Attorney General Jeff Sessions is warning local law enforcement agencies to comply with requests from federal immigration authorities to assist them in detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally -- or face consequences. But as David explains, there could also be serious consequences for communities that do comply. mp3 2017-04-01 Saturday
68 #43: When Objectivity is Your Only Currency: Police Oversight Part II Efforts to oversee police several decades ago resulted in hundreds of complaint review boards that investigate individual complaints. But a new type of oversight is gaining traction – one in which appointed civilians look at whole departments and how they do their jobs.

Independent police auditor Walter Katz of San Jose, California, says a police organization's investigative process is as important as its findings.

PLUS it's Criminal Injustice's one-year anniversary! Celebrate with host David Harris at criminalinjusticepodcast.com. mp3

2017-03-28 Tuesday
67 Bonus: What Do We Know About Neil Gorsuch? David follows up on this week's Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. mp3 2017-03-25 Saturday
66 #42: Who's Watching the Watchmen? Police Oversight Part I More than 50 years since civilian oversight of police began, many cities have an independent review board. Some of these agencies work, and others don’t, but all of them are unpopular with police. We talk about civilian oversight in the post-Ferguson era.

Elizabeth Pittinger is the executive director of Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board and one of the longest-serving oversight officials in the U.S. She says Pittsburgh's model offers necessary insulation from political interference and public opinion. mp3

2017-03-21 Tuesday
65 Bonus: Serving at the Pleasure of the President It's customary to replace U.S. Attorneys whenever a new administration takes over in Washington. The case of Preet Bhahara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who refused a White House order to resign, is unusual at more than one level. David explains why in this bonus episode. 2017-03-18 Saturday
64 #41: Better Data, Better Policing American policing is at a crossroads, with some calling for a return to the law and order policing of the past. But what many police leaders need is a way toward a future with more reliance on research-based practices. We look at one organization that’s been conducting field studies with real cops to improve policing for years: the Police Foundation, on this episode of Criminal Injustice. 2017-03-14 Tuesday
63 Bonus: SCOTUS Update The U.S. Supreme Court delivered rulings last week on two cases involving race and jury proceedings. We break down the decisions and get analysis on their implications in this bonus episode. 2017-03-11 Saturday
62 Bonus: How Wiretaps Actually Work David assesses President Donald Trump's claim that his predecessor wiretapped him during the campaign. What's the legal procedure to get a wiretap? Can a sitting U.S. President order one? And -- IF it actually happened -- what could we infer from a judge's decision to allow a wiretap at Trump Tower? 2017-03-09 Thursday
61 #40: Want Reconciliation? Acknowledge the Past American cities all have crime and violence in some neighborhoods. People in these communities, and the police who work there, all want less crime and greater safety. So why do police and communities find themselves mistrusting each and unable to work together? How can we break out of this cycle?

Guest David Kennedy talks about the painful path to reconciliation.

2017-03-07 Tuesday
60 #39: Why Misdemeanors Are Major We hear a lot about crime trends, almost always involving homicides or felonies. But the vast majority of criminal offenses are misdemeanors. These convictions can have a major impact on employment, education, you name it - yet they are hardly studied at all. We talk with the leader of the new Misdemeanor Justice Project, Dr. Preeti Chauhan. 2017-02-28 Tuesday
59 Bonus: Supreme Court and Racial Justice An update on our former guest Christina Swarns of the NAACP (episode 34), who just won a key victory with this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Davis. 2017-02-24 Friday
58 #38: Rebuilding a Police Agency from the Inside Out What should a police department be? What’s the mission, and how should it be carried out? From the last administration's "President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing" to protests across the country, it’s been a non-stop national conversation.

We talk with Sheriff Jerry Clayton, a law enforcement professional who’s re-shaped a police agency from the inside out.

2017-02-21 Tuesday
57 Bonus: Myths and Facts About Sanctuary Cities & Law Enforcement President Trump says self-styled "sanctuary cities" are breaking the law. But are cities under any actual obligation to enforce federal immigration law? And is there any evidence for Trump's claim that sanctuary status is linked with higher incidence of crime? David answers these questions and explains why many local law enforcement agencies want nothing to do with immigration enforcement. 2017-02-17 Friday
56 #37: Avoiding False Confessions with the PEACE Method We know the current system for police interrogation can lead to false confessions, even for the most heinous crimes. There’s a better way to question suspects: the PEACE method. Developed in the UK, it’s revolutionizing police questioning across the world.

Jonathan Davison tells us why the PEACE method’s time has come.

2017-02-14 Tuesday
55 #36: Facing the Dangers of Facial Recognition Facial recognition technology is being used by police all over the U.S. using images of millions of innocent Americans. It’s a lot less accurate than what we see on TV, and it may be pointing police at a disproportionate number of minority citizens. Georgetown's Alvaro Bedoya explains. 2017-02-07 Tuesday
54 #35: The Criminalization of Mental Illness The largest provider of services to the mentally ill in America is not a health care provider – it is the criminal justice system. And on any given day, Chicago's Cook County Jail is actually the largest mental health institution in the entire country.

Sheriff Tom Dart runs the facility, and he's radically changed how the system in Chicago treats the mentally ill.

2017-01-31 Tuesday
52 Bonus: 2016 recap + 2017 preview As the Criminal Injustice team takes a break for the holidays, we take a moment to look back at some of our favorite episodes of the year and preview what's coming up in Season 3. New episodes return in January, but keep checking in over the next few... 2016-12-13
51 #34: The NAACP and criminal justice in the 21st century The NAACP used the legal system to overcome separate but equal, desegregate schools and public facilities, and bring some measure of equal justice to African Americans living under Jim Crow laws in the U.S. What role does this legendary organization... 2016-11-29 Tuesday
50 #33: Do Stand Your Ground Laws Make Us Safe? More than ten years ago, states began passing Stand Your Ground Laws: the laws said people defending themselves could use force, even deadly force, in any public place where they had a right to be. Proponents said we’d be safer from crime and... 2016-11-22 Tuesday
49 Bonus: stop & frisk in the time of Trump Can President Donald Trump order local law enforcement to practice stop-and-frisk policing? 2016-11-16 Wednesday
48 #32: Trying to track police shootings and reform the use of force Do the legal rules for using deadly force, set by the Supreme Court in the 1980s, still make sense? Do they protect the officer and the public, or is it time to change how police make the decision to take a life? Author, expert and former officer... 2016-11-15 Tuesday
47 Bonus: What will Trump's presidency mean for criminal justice? What will the U.S. Department of Justice look like under President Trump? And how will its role in overseeing local law enforcement change? We unpack a few of the possible scenarios. Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com. 2016-11-10 Thursday
46 #31: The rape kit testing backlog is worse than you think When a sexual assault occurs, police encourage the victim to complete a “rape kit” – a standardized procedure to collect evidence needed to find and prosecute the assailant. But instead of rapid usage of this evidence, tens of thousands of the completed kits still sit in police warehouses – untested and waiting.

Dr. Kelly Walsh, forensic scientist at the Urban Institute, helps us understand what's behind the huge failure and what we need to do about it.

2016-11-08 Tuesday
45 Bonus: race, sentencing, and the Supreme Court Analysis of recent SCOTUS cases that grapple with the role of race in criminal justice. 2016-11-02 Wednesday
44 #30: Gypsy Cops: How Bad Officers Stay Ahead of the Law When police officers get into deep trouble, we think their law enforcement careers end. But some of them resign before they’re canned, and then move on to serve – and create new and bigger problems -- in other police departments.

Professor Roger Goldman has been the top expert on the issue for years.

2016-11-01 Tuesday
43 Bonus: All Apologies The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently issued an apology for "historical injustices" against people of color by law enforcement officers. How significant is this statement, and how likely is it to influence... 2016-10-27
42 Innovation in probation For years, probation has meant reporting to your agent, obeying conditions set by the court, drug testing, and eventually, you screw up and go back to jail. Wayne McKenzie, general counsel to the New York City Department of Probation, thinks... 2016-10-25
41 The truth about false confessions DNA exonerations have proven that some people confess to serious crimes they didn’t commit, even without physical abuse or mental illness. But why? Are police interrogation techniques to blame, and what can we do to make sure this stops... 2016-10-18
40 Explicit Bonus: Did Donald Trump's recorded comments describe a sexual assault? We can't know definitively whether Donald Trump's taped remarks about groping women refer to events that actually took place as described. But if they did... did the GOP presidential nominee commit sexual assault? The answer, under New York... 2016-10-14
39 The curse of mandatory minimum drug sentences Since the mid 1980s, mandatory minimum drug sentences have served as the driving force behind the explosion in the federal prison population, and also the vast racial disproportionality in that population. A new documentary, Incarcerarting US,... 2016-10-11
38 Bonus: Eroding faith in police body cameras The fallout from recent police shootings has some questioning the value of body cameras as a check on improper use of force. But the technology can only be as helpful as the policy governing its use. Find more at criminalinjusticepodcast.com. 2016-10-07
37 The Serial Effect: Sarah Koenig on criminal justice and citizen journalism Our vast criminal justice system forces us to think about big issues like fairness and safety. But what can we learn from a deep examination of a single case, in which we dive as far down as we can and learn every detail? We ask these questions of... 2016-10-04
36 Bonus: What the presidential debate got wrong about stop & frisk There was a lot of talk about New York's controversial stop-and-frisk policy in Monday's presidential debate -- much of it incorrect. Donald Trump was called out for spreading misinformation, but he wasn't the only one who got something wrong. We... 2016-09-29
35 Leading Policing in the 21st Century Police departments in the US are under scrutiny like never before. Calls for change are the only constant. So how does a police chief lead a department in this climate? And what’s most important as we look forward, two years after... 2016-09-27
34 Bonus: is violent crime up... or down? A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice projects an uptick in U.S. murder rates by the end of 2016. But, as host David Harris cautions, the data paint an incomplete picture of a complicated situation. 2016-09-22 Thursday
33 How Crisis Intervention Teams are changing the way police confront mental illness We see it over and over: police officers confront a person in the throes of mental illness. Some of these people may be dangerous; most are not violent, but they are confused, disturbed, and not acting rationally. Police officers are trained for a... 2016-09-20 Tuesday
32 Bonus: Body cams and the Law of Unanticipated Consequences In a followup to our first episode on the promise and pitfalls of police-worn body cameras, we look at some of the unexpected problems that have arisen in cities that have adopted the technology over the last year. Find more at... 2016-09-16 Friday
31 Prosecutor as Innovator: The DA’s Power to Move the Needle of Justice The prosecutor sits in a powerful position in the American criminal justice system, deciding who to charge and with what, and wielding significant discretion. Some prosecutors use this power to focus narrowly on crime but George Gascon, District... 2016-09-13 Tuesday
30 When legal seizures become theft: How civil asset forfeiture laws undermine good policing The U.S. is the land of due process and constitutional rights. So how do police get the right to seize the property of citizens without criminal convictions, often without even criminal charges? The answer is civil asset forfeiture: an old tool... 2016-09-06
29 Bonus: Can you force prosecutorial reforms at the ballot box? George Soros thinks so. An addendum to our recent episode on elected prosecutors and the political entanglements they face: David shares news of a $3 million campaign funded by financier George Soros to unseat district attorneys in six states. 2016-08-31
28 The Power of the Prosecutor In our state legal systems, elected county prosecutors decide who gets tried and on what charges. With this great power, are there any limits? With controversy surrounding the investigation of police misconduct in so many cities, should local... 2016-08-30
27 Bonus: Getting tough on "America's toughest sheriff" Less than a month after addressing the Republican National Convention, the man who calls himself America's toughest sheriff -- Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona -- could be facing criminal contempt charges in federal court. David spoke... 2016-08-25
26 How bail traps the poor To get released before trial, most American courts require defendants to post bail money. If you can't pay, even if you're innocent, you'll have to wait for trial while still behind bars. Staying in jail awaiting trial damages lives and legal... 2016-08-23
25 Bonus: The strange case of Kathleen Kane; or why screwing around with grand jury evidence is always a bad idea A cautionary tale from our home state of Pennsylvania, where this week Attorney General Kathleen was convicted of felony perjury for leaking secret grand jury documents to a newspaper and then trying to cover it up. In this special edition of... 2016-08-16
24 Catching sex traffickers with Big Data Pimps and sex traffickers have long been part of the dark side of the economy, but they now use the internet for their ugly business. And some of this involves trafficking underage girls for sex. Our guest has pioneered an approach to meeting this... 2016-08-16
23 Scandal and the Golden Rule in criminal defense for the poor The tattered system for supplying criminal defense services to the poor is a shambles. More than 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court declared that persons charged with crimes must be provided with a defense lawyer if they are too poor to afford one,... 2016-08-09
22 After the War on Drugs, Part II: Portugal In the second part of our look at what things might look at after the War on Drugs, we turn to Portugal. This country, a member of the European Union, decriminalized the possession of all drugs in amounts sufficient for personal use. You read that... 2016-08-02
21 From big trouble to big business, how Colorado is capitalizing on decriminalized weed More than four decades after President Richard Nixon first declared the War on Drugs, the U.S. is at a crossroads. We can’t arrest and jail our way out of the problem, and a small but growing number of jurisdictions are decriminalizing cannabis. So... 2016-07-26
20 Changing police training With every shooting incident, study, and official statement, one demand always appears: better training for police. It’s easy to say and a no brainer to support, but what does that actually mean? In this episode, we hear from Deputy Commissioner... 2016-07-19
19 Bonus: thoughts on a violent week One week after the killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and five police officers in Texas, David Harris reflects on the deepening crisis in U.S. law enforcement. 2016-07-14
18 Innocent until algorithms, how Big Data is changing how we police The era of Big Data has come to policing. Departments with lots of data and robust analysis capability say they can predict where crime may occur, and maybe even who will be involved as perpetrator or victim. Does this help police fight crime? And if... 2016-07-12
17 From Convict to Consultant Walt Pavlo had a good job, a family, a nice home. He never planned on going to prison. Now that he's out, he has a new job: counseling others who are about to enter the system. The founder of Prisonology.com shares a white collar criminal's view from... 2016-07-05
16 Bonus: Supreme Court session recap mp3 David breaks down this week's news from the U.S. Supreme Court on 90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh. The high court ended its 2016-2016 term Tuesday with major rulings on abortion, affirmative action, government corruption, and more. Criminal... 2016-06-30
15 #12: The Role of the U.S. Attorney mp3 In each of 93 federal districts in America, the United States Attorney is the chief federal prosecutor and law enforcement officer. The U.S. Attorney has immense responsibilities and great power, deciding what cases to pursue, who to charge, and what... 2016-06-28
14 Want justice? Get a journalist like Maurice Possley With hundreds of exonerations of the wrongfully convicted, it’s easy to think that the law and lawyers making use of DNA have made all the difference. But investigative journalists have made huge contributions: exposing shoddy forensics, showing the... 2016-06-21
13 Seth Stoughton: Police insider/outsider With the public discussion of police misconduct and public trust at a fever pitch, the loudest voices dominate. We need the insight of a person with the experience of a police officer, with deep knowledge of the law and social science, and with the... 2016-06-13
12 Robert Cindrich: A Judge's Conscience As a federal judge, Robert Cindrich was at the pinnacle of his career. Then he did something almost unheard-of in the legal profession: he quit. What could compel a respected jurist to walk away from one of the most prestigious and powerful... 2016-06-07
11 Bonus: an update on the Freddie Gray case On May 23, a judge found the second officer tried in the death of Freddie Gray not guilty. In this bonus episode, Criminal Injustice host David Harris discusses the verdict on WESA's Essential Pittsburgh, with EP host Paul Guggenheimer. 2016-05-25
10 Chuck Wexler: why use of force must change For decades, police in the U.S. have used force under the Supreme Court’s rule that they can do as much as appears “reasonably necessary” to accomplish their lawful goals. But after almost two years of national attention on police shootings of... 2016-05-17
9 Marc Mauer: Incarceration Nation The U.S. is number one in the world when it comes to incarcerating its own citizens. With one in three black men in the U.S. likely to go to prison during his lifetime, the system begs for reform, burdens taxpayers, and weakens our country and... 2016-05-10
8 David Rudovsky on suing the police When someone dies or has their constitutional rights violated in an encounter with the police, police can be sued. But why are these suits so tough to win, even in the worst cases of police misconduct? And what does the multiple millions of dollars... 2016-05-03
7 Mark Kappelhoff on when feds prosecute cops When there’s a bad shooting by police, local prosecutors seldom take action. The feds can step in, but they rarely do. Why? And even when they do, why do they lose these cases so often? Mark Kappelhoff is clinical professor of law at... 2016-04-26
6 Explicit Capt. Chip Huth on Unconditional Respect For too long, the police "warrior" culture has relied on the use of force as its ultimate tool. But one high-ranking veteran officer and his colleagues have re-imagined police work: they give everyone unconditional respect. And it... 2016-04-19
5 Melba Pearson on implicit racial bias Racial bias in the criminal justice system isn't just about old-school bigots. The real problem is unconscious bias in the minds of most of us, including police. How does this impact life-and-death police work? Melba Pearson is... 2016-04-12
4 Consent decrees with Sam Walker Sometimes a local law enforcement agency is so dysfunctional that the federal government has to get involved. What does a top-to-bottom overhaul of an entire police department look like? Sam Walker is Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the... 2016-04-05
3 Police body cams with Vic Walczak of ACLU-PA Civil liberties and surveillance technology don't often go together. But when it comes to preventing and punishing police misconduct, many civil libertarians think equipping officers with body-worn video cameras could make a difference. We look... 2016-03-29
2 Preview: Essential Pittsburgh David Harris previews Criminal Injustice in conversation with Paul Guggenheimer on 90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh. 2016-03-28
1 Criminal Injustice launches March 29, 2016 mp3 David A. Harris is Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh, and a nationally recognized expert on criminal law.

In partnership with 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR News Station, he hosts a weekly discussion with researchers, policy experts, law enforcement and court officials, and others about what's broken in America's criminal justice system -- and how to fix it.

2016-03-17
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