This week at crimestory.com, I followed up on my interview with U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Amanda Knox continued her series of interviews; Sean Smith contributed another chapter in our series on the way that the story of Covid-19 in prisons has unfolded in the press; and we published another update from the Three Strikes Project.
On Monday, we presented Amanda’s interview with Shon Hopwood, who has made the journey from serving time in federal prison for bank robbery to prominent law professor and criminal justice reform advocate.
On Tuesday, Sean Smith continued his week by week analysis of the news stories aggregated in Crime Story Daily related to COVID-19 and our carceral system. In this installment, Sean looked at stories from the week of April 12.
On Wednesday, we presented Amanda’s interview with John Rappaport, a law professor at the University of Chicago and a leading scholar on the causes and effects of systemic racism in policing practices and police behavior.
June 5, 2020 marked the one year anniversary of my interview with Attorney General William Barr. We published that interview when we debuted CRIME STORY in August of last year.
As the events unfolded in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, I thought of the themes that AG Barr and I discussed. I also observed his involvement in some of President Trump’s decision-making in response to the social unrest in Washington, DC and beyond. These events only intensified my curiosity about how Mr. Barr thinks about so many of the issues. And so, two weeks ago, on the anniversary of our interview, I sent the Attorney General an email following up on several points of our discussion that seem to be particularly timely.
On Friday we presented my June 5, 2020 email to AG Barr in its entirety.
Also this week, we presented Michael Romano‘s most recent newsletter from Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project, whose mission is to reverse the most unjust criminal sentences.
In this newsletter, Romano writes about the release from prison of client David Berlin, who was sentenced under the Three Strikes law for second degree robbery, served almost 20 years, and walked free from San Diego County Jail after a judge recalled and vacated his life sentence.
As is our custom, we present a summary of Hannah Teich’s curated selection of some of the more interesting stories from Crime Story Daily over the past week. (In order to get to the full essay and the story links, please click through this link to Hannah’s piece at crimestory.com.)
On the criminal justice policy front: This week, amid ongoing protests, lawmakers around the country continued to implement police reforms. Several pieces highlight reforms at the state and local levels, from Minneapolis to San Francisco to New York. The New York Times Magazine presents a discussion between activists and policy researchers on different pathways to reform. A Los Angeles Times editorial highlights the movement to “defund the police.” A piece from the New York Times reiterates the call to “abolish the police”; and a piece from New York Magazine outlines why police abolition is a useful framework for conceptualizing reform. And finally, a piece from High Country News focuses on Eugene, Oregon, where the long-running CAHOOTS program offers a successful model for nonviolent, community-based alternatives.
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: The New York Times reports that even as coronavirus cases have plateaued nationwide, new cases in prisons and jails across the country have soared in recent weeks. A piece from The Marshall Project outlines how the Bureau of Prisons’ slow and incomplete pandemic response turned federal prisons into “death traps.” Reason reports that over the last few months, solitary confinement in US prisons and jails has increased by nearly 500% over pre-pandemic levels. And a piece from the New Yorker focuses on Cummins Unit, a state penitentiary in rural southeastern Arkansas and home to one of the country’s largest coronavirus outbreaks.
In complex crime storytelling: A piece from the New Yorker focuses on the controversial “felony murder” charge, attempting to make sense of upgraded charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from a criminal justice reformer’s point of view. And a piece from the New York Times focuses on Marty Goddard, who envisioned the first standardized rape kit, revolutionizing the way law enforcement and the criminal justice system treat sexual assault.
And in culture/true crime: A piece from The Marshall Project highlights “The Writing on the Wall,” a traveling art installation that seeks to amplify the voices and perspectives of incarcerated people. A piece from The Atlantic focuses on Gordon Parks, Life magazine’s first black photographer, whose work revolutionized what a “crime photo” could look like. And another piece from The Atlantic focuses on “the unreality of Cops,” which was recently cancelled after 32 seasons on the air.
Again, you can click here to go to Hannah’s weekly essay and find links to those articles.
For those of you wondering how you can catch up on previous Crime Story newsletters, just click here and your question shall be answered.
Thanks again for reading and listening.
Publisher/Editor, Crime Story