This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.
On the criminal justice policy front: Politico reports that on Wednesday, a federal trial judge in Washington, DC blocked the scheduled executions of four federal death row inmates. The order effectively froze the Trump administration’s efforts to “resume imposing the death penalty in a federal system that saw its last execution more than a decade and a half ago.” And the New York Times reports that last Friday, less than a week before Rodney Reed’s scheduled execution, the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas moved to suspend his death sentence indefinitely, and ordered the court where he was originally tried to consider new evidence in the case that may support Reed’s longstanding claims of innocence.
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: a new investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting found that in the last 25 years, nearly 5,000 young people in Mississippi have been charged as adults and wound up in adult jails and prisons. Three out of every four are black. The piece traces this practice back to its roots in the Jim Crow era, when black adults did not have the protected right to vote.
In complex crime storytelling: a new piece from The Atlantic looks at the case of “Lavender Doe,” a young woman who was found dead in small-town Texas in 2006. Her body was burned so badly as to be unrecognizable, and the mystery of her real identity remained unsolved for more than a decade – until amateur genealogists took up, and eventually cracked, the case. And a piece from the New York Times outlines the case of Judge Shelley Joseph, a state judge in Newton, Massachusetts who is facing obstruction of justice charges for allowing an immigrant to evade ICE detention by arranging for him to sneak out the back door of her courthouse. The case – and the federal prosecutor’s decision to indict her, a move so unusual that its last precedent in Massachusetts dates back to 1787 – has opened a debate around whether and how states can resist carrying out President Trump’s immigration policy.
And in culture/true crime: a piece from Vulture examines the phenomenon of “copcasts”: true-crime podcasts produced by actual law enforcement agencies. The NYPD has one, called Break in the Case, which features standard genre fare narrated by a mix of active and retired law-enforcement officials. Essentially a “bizarro experiment in public relations,” copcasts “aggressively blur the line between outreach and entertainment.” And a new podcast from the Los Angeles Times tracks the story of Anaheim, California, police detective Julissa Trapp in her quest to learn what happened to three missing women.