This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.
On the criminal justice policy front: As the debate over New York’s new bail law rages on, a New York Times editorial by Emily Bazelon and the Vera Institute’s Insha Rahman makes a case for “sticking with bail reform.” The new law makes release before trial automatic for people accused of most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, which make up roughly 90% of arrests. Bazelon and Rahman argue that the law “has the potential to end mass incarceration as we know it in New York, with an anticipated drop in the jail population statewide of 40%. It deserves a chance to prove itself.” And Slate reports that last Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court – a “laboratory of judicial conservativism since 2019” – voted to let judges impose the death penalty without the unanimous recommendation of a jury, overturning a landmark precedent and “remov[ing] a significant safeguard for the just application of the death penalty.”
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A piece from The Bitter Southerner takes readers inside the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola Prison, the largest maximum-security prison in the country and “mass incarceration’s ground zero.” And a series of articles from California Sunday Magazine tackles the subject of facial recognition, the “controversial and nearly ever-present technology that could replace the fingerprint.” The pieces provide a comprehensive look into how facial recognition works, how and why law enforcement agencies utilize the technology, the backlash against facial recognition and the push to increase regulations and restrictions on its use.
In complex crime storytelling: A piece from the New York Times looks at the tragic case of Khiel Coppin and Na’im Owens, two brothers from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, both of whom were fatally shot by New York City police in separate incidents seven years apart.
And in culture/true crime: A piece from Mic examines and interrogates the popularity of true-crime dramas like HBO’s “I Love You, Now Die.” Although true-crime entertainment can often serve to “shine a much-needed light on injustice,” it also tends to flatten or oversimplify complex issues, turning real-life tragedy into a mass-media frenzy of hardline opinions and virtue signaling. And a new study by the nonprofit Color of Change examines the impact of the ubiquitous TV cop drama on white Americans’ perceptions of crime. Reviewing more than 350 episodes from 26 different programs, the study provides a fascinatingly detailed look at the ways in which these shows influence the public imagination when it comes to crime and law enforcement, essentially functioning as propagandists for American cops.