This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.
On the criminal justice policy front: As the intense backlash against New York’s controversial new bail law continues, the New York Post reports that State Senate Democrats have held a series of closed-door meetings seeking to find a compromise. A new proposal backed by Governor Cuomo would entirely eliminate cash bail, but return judges’ leeway to hold suspects before trial. A piece from Slate focuses on the electoral success of criminal justice reform in the affluent suburbs of northern Virginia, where progressive prosecutors swept Democratic primary and general elections in November 2019. As American suburbs have become increasingly diverse in recent decades, the stereotype of “small-minded, cautious suburbanites” has come to seem out of date; as the Virginia prosecutors’ elections show, the traditional law-and-order rhetoric and fear-of-crime campaigns designed to thwart reform in suburban areas may no longer carry the same weight.
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A piece from Washington Monthly focuses on Attorney General William Barr’s continued attacks on reformist prosecutors, whom he has repeatedly lambasted as “soft on crime.” Earlier this week, Barr’s Justice Department stepped in to overrule its own prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation in the case of Trump crony Roger Stone, who has been convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation. The piece highlights the hypocrisy inherent in this contrast between Barr’s stance on progressive prosecutors and his leniency towards Stone.
In complex crime storytelling: A piece from Rolling Stone focuses on the case of Rob Will, who was sentenced to death nearly 20 years ago for the murder of a sheriff’s deputy in Harris County, Texas. Will’s trial and subsequent appeals were marred by errors, questionable testimony, and dubious tactics; yet despite considerable evidence supporting his innocence, federal procedural rules may bar him from a new trial.
And in culture/true crime: The Los Angeles Times reviews “Prison Truth,” a new book by the pioneering journalist William J. Drummond. Since 2012, Drummond has been an adviser to the San Quentin News, a newspaper published by inmates of California’s San Quentin State Prison. The book chronicles Drummond’s own story, along with “the remarkable efforts by San Quentin Prison inmates to document their circumstances — and in so doing, achieve rehabilitation through introspection and expression.” And Salon interviews the co-directors of Netflix’s new true-crime docuseries “The Pharmacist,” which recounts a father’s fight to solve the murder of his son. Previous docuseries from the duo have focused on Kalief Browder and Trayvon Martin.