Weeks of nationwide and global demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have had their effect, according to a new AP-NORC poll. The vast majority of Americans now see the need for criminal justice reform. And, a large majority (69%) now says that the system needs either a complete overhaul or major changes.
Is assessing fines and fees an effective way to administrate justice? Does doing so result in less crime? Lower recidivism rates? Or does it come down unfairly on the poor? Should communities pay for part of their court administration costs with fines and fees? What does it mean when our justice system is partially a collection agency?
In the wake of the national and international protests over police brutality, especially towards people of color, more attention is being paid to how people of color enter the criminal justice system. One of the major ways is through a low-level misdemeanor offense.
For a jury to be of "your peers," shouldn't it more or less reflect the ethic makeup of the community you live in?
Recently, a report appeared in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest that indicated large variability in what psychological tests are being allowed in American courts. These tests are used in both civil and criminal cases and can have enormous impact. In a criminal case, a psychological test could influence everything from whether the defendant gets bail to their ultimate sentence.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution doesn't specifically grant criminal defendants the right to a unanimous jury, but the protection is so fundamental to justice that it is assumed. This is according to a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court led by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Traditionally, the insanity defense has been available in two situations:
In 2009, the National Research Council issued a report on forensic analysis in court. It found that few forensic investigative techniques are supported by sufficient science.
Many people agree that our criminal justice system relies too much on pretrial detention -- keeping people in jail because they are assigned bail they can't afford. Ideally, we could tell who is a flight risk and who is a danger to the community in some logical way and release those who are not.
As we consider the causes of mass incarceration in the United States, we start with the knowledge that crime has been dropping since the mid-1990s. That should mean that arrest rates are also dropping, but that isn't always the case.