Recent good reads in criminal-justice journalism, with an emphasis on longform narrative stories and original reporting about crime, crime victims, and reforms in sentencing and prisons:
- Politico Magazine‘s “Justice Issue” is a nightstand-reading list in itself. The issue includes: Scott C. Johnson on how Oakland police have turned their brutal past into better relations with residents. Chris Mitchell on Bill Bratton’s challenge to control crime and his officers. Nikole Hannah-Jones‘ “Letter from Black America,” describing in vivid scenes what it feels like to fear the police in ways that are invisible to white America. And Michael Hirsh with yet another exploration of the conservative-liberal alliance for criminal justice reform.
- Josh Dean‘s “Stopwatch Gang” has all the thrills of a good bank-robber caper, which it is. But then it hits the reader with something much deeper, about friendship, redemption, and life. (The Atavist)
- Substance.com columnist Maia Szalavitz tells the story of Matt Bowden, aka Starboy, whose adventures in pharmacological legal highs illustrate the folly of drug enforcement policy. As cops flounder in their attempts to ban new chemicals and enforce existing laws, Bowden and New Zealand show the alternative: regulating a market to make it safer. (Pacific Standard)
- Leon Neyfakh explains a major flaw in sentencing policy that classifies people as violent criminals even when they have not harmed another person and have no likelihood of doing so. His story at Slate expands on a story expands on one earlier the same day at The Marshall Project, in which Dana Goldstein explained how the “Cut50″ movement cannot reach its goal of reducing the states’ prison population by half without releasing some convicted of violent offenses. That report, part of Goldstein’s always-smart series of explainers called Justice Lab, includes a cool interactive graphic/calculator that allows the reader to play with the mix of policy decisions to make the math work.
- Chicago Tribune‘s Phil Kadner reported on a bill in Illinois that would protect domestic-violence victims who call police for help, only to risk eviction by triggering laws meant to keep apartments crime-free.
- A Miami Herald team won a prestigious Goldsmith Award from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center for Innocents Lost, an investigative series about failures to protect victims of child abuse.
- Joe Duggan of the Omaha World-Herald quoted from a letter sent to the state legislature by 25 murder victims’ family members. They explain why they support repeal of the death penalty, citing reasons that are far more typical of victims’ survivors than outsiders imagine.
- Carla Murphy of Colorlines helpfully summarized a recent panel discussion on young men of color as crime victims. Her story links to a video of the event, as well as to the underlying report by Danielle Sered of Vera Institute’s Common Justice.
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