This is a curated selection of highlights from Crime Story Daily this week.
On the criminal justice policy front: The Marshall Project surveys Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s record on race and criminal justice, from her work on sentencing reform and capital punishment to her stance on Indigenous rights. In an op-ed for the Sacramento Bee, civil rights lawyer and advocate Michelle Alexander calls on Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the Racial Justice Act, which “prohibits state prosecutors and court officers from using discriminating means to seek or to obtain a conviction or sentence.” And HuffPost highlights Savanna’s Act, bipartisan legislation enacted this week to address a “horrifying and largely invisible crisis”: the murder or mysterious disappearance of more than 300 Native American women and girls in 71 US cities since 2010. The bill boosts coordination and data collection between tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement in cases involving missing and murdered Native women. It requires federal agencies to get recommendations from tribes on how to enhance the safety of Native women, and requires new guidelines for responding to these cases, in consultation with tribes.
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: This week, the decision not to indict Louisville, Kentucky police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor brought renewed outrage and scrutiny of investigations into police shootings. A piece from Mother Jones outlines how “absurd legal maneuvering” protected the officers involved in her death. The Wall Street Journal reports that this outcome isn’t unusual: very few police officers are charged with crimes related to shootings on the job. While roughly 1,000 deadly police shootings occur every year, the vast majority are deemed justified: an average of just eight officers have faced murder or manslaughter charges for on-the-job shootings every year since 2005. And a piece from ProPublica, in collaboration with the Asbury Park Press, focuses on New Jersey, where prosecutors and judges have consistently downgraded charges brought against police officers for serious crimes, despite a state law designed to limit plea deals for “official misconduct.”
In complex crime storytelling: In a piece for New York Magazine, incarcerated writer John J. Lennon paints a picture of pandemic life behind bars. The New York Review of Books rides along with emergency first responders in Eugene, Oregon as they hand out food and first-aid supplies, shuttle people to shelters and hospitals, and counsel them through various crises – part of the long-running CAHOOTS program, a publicly-funded, community-based alternative to police. And a piece from Narratively focuses on “the pirates of the highways” – brazen bands of thieves who snatch unattended 18-wheelers, packed with cargo, from the truck stops and parking lots of America’s interstates – and the specialized law enforcement teams tasked with tracking them down.
And in culture/true crime: In an interview with the New York Times, comedian Chris Rock discusses police brutality, America’s racial reckoning, and his dramatic turn as a ‘50s crime lord in the new season of “Fargo.” And a photo essay from The Nation focuses on one of New York City’s most notorious and brutal jails, the Manhattan Detention Complex, AKA “the Tombs.”