FROM Justin Brooks
Forensic Testimony Called Into Question Crime lab scenes on television are full of forensic mumbo jumbo -- and now it seems that the real-life experts at the FBI have been making stuff up too. The FBI and the Justice Department have announced that agency experts’ bad testimony helped convict hundreds of suspects of murder, rape, and other violent crimes. In 32 of those cases, defendants received the death penalty. And 14 of those have been executed or died in prison. The main problem is hair analysis, which turns out to be not very accurate.
Three Strikes and the Voice of the Voters California's Three Strikes law was first passed in 1994, at a time of anxiety over violent crime. Offenders previously convicted of two violent or serious crimes could be sentenced to 25 years to life for any third conviction. Now, state prisons are so overcrowded that federal courts have ordered population reduction, but the state's voters may be ahead of the game. By huge margins in all 58 counties on November 6, they modified Three Strikes by passing Proposition 36 . We hear from Michael Romano, Director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, who co-authored that measure, and from Justin Brooks, Director of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy at California Western School of Law, which won release of the first nonviolent offender .
Why Do Innocent People Plead Guilty? The Sixth Amendment guarantees a fair trial to every American accused of a crime. But trials are no longer the basis of the criminal justice system. A US Supreme Court majority has said it's not trial by jury that determines "who goes to jail and for how long," it's plea bargaining. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are decided by plea bargains — and many people plead guilty — even when they're innocent. Do they know what they're doing? Are the law and the justice system rigged to favor the prosecution? What would happen if every defendant demanded a jury trial?
"Tough on crime" rhetoric sees a revival at Sessions' DOJ The pendulum swings between treatment-focused approaches to drug abuse and tough law enforcement. Now, after years of Obama-era "reforms," President Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions wants local police freed from federal restrictions to fight another "war on drugs."
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.