Tag Archives | Justice

U.S. Justice System Rampant With ‘Bad Science’

44794518-30152305-300225 Every year, convictions for serious crimes occur based on debunked pseudo-science such as forensic dentistry and arson science. Add in poor usage of police lineups and fingerprinting, and the potential for finding innocent people guilty is immense. All in all, our courts are scientifically impaired to a degree that’s a menace to justice. Via Yahoo News:

The story of an American man cleared of a rape and robbery conviction by DNA evidence after spending 30 years in jail made headlines across the world on Tuesday.

But despite advances in science and technology, such exonerations are rare, and experts say the US criminal justice system remains riddled with problems that arise from outdated practices and, quite simply, bad science.

Perhaps the worst offender is the police lineup. Research shows that 75 percent of all wrongful convictions that are later cleared by DNA evidence start with eyewitness mistakes.

That was the case for Cornelius Dupree, who was fingered in 1979 by a rape victim who incorrectly picked him out of a photo array.

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Wealth: When Will The 98% Tell The 2%, Enough Is Enough?

LeprechaunGilbert Mercier writes on News Junkie Post:

Congress has passed, a two year renewal of the Bush tax cuts. The bill is a nice extra Christmas bonus for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, and it will only amplify the monumental US budget deficit.

The logic behind the bill goes against, not only common sense but also against the global trend, notably in Europe, to cut spending and increase taxation in order to address a spreading budget crisis.

The governments of countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are pushing for unpopular austerity measures, and richer countries such as the UK and France are trying to implement the same type of economic policies often by cutting social benefits and programs.

If austerity is the trend in Europe, it is certainly not the case in the United States. The US political and financial ruling class, which can be credited for starting the global financial meltdown of 2008, is still betting on the “virtues” of shock capitalism by cutting taxes and not cutting spending.

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Oregon County Decriminalizes Heroin, Meth and Shoplifting

District Attorney Mike Schrunk

When criminal laws and justice are pushed to aside because of insufficient funds, should we start questioning the laws or those who enforce them? Multnomah County’s DA has decided that those who commit “small crimes” (such as possession of meth or heroin, hit-and-run accidents, and shoplifting) are better off with receiving a fine instead of being arrested. The Oregonian reports:

After years of budget cuts, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk says he’s had no choice but to stop prosecuting dozens of illegal acts as crimes.

Among them, most addicts caught with small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine or meth; first- or second-time shoplifters caught stealing anything worth less than $250; suspects who resist arrest, or who run away from police officers; drivers who hit and run, as long as they have insurance when they are caught.

Multnomah County is treating those offenses as violations — similar to being cited with a speeding ticket.

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Why Do People Confess To Crimes They Didn’t Commit?

confession101011_1_560We know that eyewitness testimony can frequently be flawed, but what about confessions? False confessions of crimes are far more common than one might think, and there are an assortment of reasons why people admit to crimes they didn’t commit — what takes place in those police interrogation rooms is often very strange. New York Magazine investigates:

In the criminal-justice system, nothing is more powerful than a confession. Decades of research on jury verdicts has demonstrated that no other form of evidence—not eyewitnesses, not a video record of the crime, not even DNA—is as convincing to a jury as a defendant who says “I did it.” The police, of course, understand the power of confessions and rely on interrogation techniques to produce them quickly so they can clear their cases.

In recent years, the use of DNA evidence has allowed experts to identify false confessions in unprecedented and disturbing numbers. In the past two decades, researchers have documented some 250 instances of false confessions, many resulting in life sentences and at least four in wrongful executions.

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Brain-Injured Woman Gains Right To Testify

A woman obtained brain injuries when being hit with a puck at a hockey game. It’s been fourteen years, but finally she has been allowed to testify in court. Some thought that the injury may have skewed her memory. If she can still remember that she’s holding a grudge after fourteen years, I’m sure she remembers why. From The Chronicle Herald:

A Debert woman left severely disabled after a puck hit her in the head while she was watching a hockey game at the local arena 14 years ago will be allowed to testify when her negligence lawsuit goes to trial in November.

Justice Kevin Coady, in a ruling that Nova Scotia Supreme Court released Thursday, rejected a motion by the operator of the West Colchester Arena in Debert that would have kept Louitta Fisher from testifying.

Murray Ritch, lawyer for the West Colchester Recreation Association, argued at a Sept.

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What’s Wrong With How We Punish Criminals

Mark Kleiman, professor of Public Affairs at the UCLA, talks to ReasonTV about the overriding flaw in the U.S. criminal justice system: it's "randomized draconianism" -- that is, punishments are both too severe, and are applied irregularly, unfairly, randomly, etc., in different cases. For example, get caught violating your drug probation, and most likely nothing will happen, but there's a small chance you will be hit with a twenty-five-year prison sentence. The solution? Modeling penalties on parenting techniques, in which punishment should be swift and certain, but not cruel or too drastic.
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Argentine Dictator Going To Jail – Is Bush Next?

People v. BushCharlotte Dennett, author of The People V. Bush: One Lawyer’s Campaign to Bring the President to Justice and the National Grassroots Movement She Encounters Along the Way, writes in Huffington Post of at least one dictator that is going to jail. Guess who she wants to be next...
The growing accountability movement got a major shot in the arm recently when it learned that on April 19, an Argentinian judge sentenced the last of Argentina's dictators, Reynaldo Bignone, age 83, to 25 years in prison. Bignone's crime: kidnapping and torturing 56 victims in a concentration camp during the reign of terror known as the "dirty war" that gripped Argentina from 1976-1983. This is huge, surpassing the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in his hospital bed back in 1998. (Pinochet died before justice could be done). The conviction of a former head of state for crimes he committed while in office sends a powerful message to all those suspected war criminals still on the loose, including some of the top leaders of the Bush administration.
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Justice for Sale: What Can ‘The People’ Bid to Have Democracy in America?

Justice For SaleBill Moyers and Michael Winship writes on Huffington Post:

That famous definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything — and the value of nothing — has come to define this present moment of American politics.

No wonder people have lost faith in politicians, parties and in our leadership. The power of money drives cynicism deep into the heart of every level of government. Everything, and everyone, comes with a price tag attached: from a seat at the table in the White House to a seat in Congress, to the fate of health care reform, our environment, and efforts to restrain Wall Street’s greed and prevent another financial catastrophe.

Our government is not broken; it’s been bought out from under us, and on the right and the left and smack across the vast middle, more and more Americans doubt representative democracy can survive the corruption of money.

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