judgement

How Appeals Courts “Rubber Stamp” Injustice

Although appellate courts can’t know whether a defendant is actually innocent, they can—or should—know when a trial is unfair. Unfortunately, says a New York attorney who writes under the pseudonym “Appellate Squawk,” most are simply rubber stamps for miscarriages of justice in lower courts.

prison

Pretense, Prison and the Free World

Corrections authorities believe encouraging “family-friendly” events inside penal institutions will motivate prisoners to change their behavior when they are released. But this is wishful thinking unless there’s better social support for reentry, writes an inmate at a Washington State penitentiary.

twinkies

Understanding the So-Called ‘Twinkie’ Defense

The term has been used as media shorthand for any defense in which the accused blames the consumption or use of some substance for his or her actions. It’s long past time to replace it with a more nuanced description, writes a former New York prosecutor.

eyeing reform

States Take a Fresh Look at Snitching

Legislatures around the country are considering—and passing—bills to tighten rules governing the use of criminal informants. The “new wave of reforms” is long overdue for a practice that has historically been secretive and under-regulated, writes a University of California law professor.

Third Degree Lite: The Abuse of Confessions

The “Reid Interrogation Method” was developed in the mid-20th century to eliminate abuses in police interrogations. But it hasn’t eliminated concerns about false confessions and should be shelved, writes a University of Virginia law researcher.

The Ordeal of Gay and Transgender Prisoners

In most prisons in America, LGBTI inmates face systematic discrimination and cruelty. But the Stafford Creek facility in Washington state has implemented model policies that address their special needs.

How to Tackle the Nation’s Missing Persons Challenge

A federally funded database called NamUs provides free forensic and analytical resources for missing, unidentified and unclaimed person cases. But unless all states make it mandatory for use by local authorities, its full potential won’t be realized, say three Florida researchers.