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Mother Appealing $1 Million Bail Set In “Affluenza” Probation Case

Tonya Couch, the mother of the teen charged in the “affluenza” case, is appealing a $1 million bail set in her Texas jailing, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports. Her lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition yesterday “seeking judicial relief from illegal restraint on her liberty and for protection from unreasonable bail.” A hearing is set for Monday. Couch is accused of helping her son, Ethan, flee to Mexico after he missed a probation appointment. Ethan Couch remains in a detention […]

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D.C. Legal Group Challenges U.S. Cash Bail System

A Washington, D.C., legal aid center is seeking to abolish the cash bail system, reports the Associated Press. The Equal Justice Under Law center has filed lawsuits in seven states, contending that requiring criminal suspects to post bail or stay in jail pending trial treats poor defendants unfairly. The most recent case challenges San Francisco’s bail system. Center founder Phil Telfeyan says the pending lawsuit could lead to changes in California’s 57 other counties. “The bail system in most states […]

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Some Crowdfunding Campaigns In Criminal Justice Prove Successful

Crowdfunding, once the province of people raising money for things like trendy coffee makers, classroom supplies, or medical treatments, has become a tool for dealing with the criminal justice system, the Marshall Project reports. It's not uncommon to find requests for bail money, legal fees, fines, or to underwrite payments for expert witnesses. With varying levels of success, crowdfunders share stories online with friends, family, and strangers through social media, hoping to raise hundreds or thousands of dollars. Some have […]

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NYC Mayor Talking Tougher On Crime After Officer Is Killed

A police officer had been shot and killed, and the message from New York City’s mayor, who had been perceived as antipolice and weak on crime, was a tough one, reports the Wall Street Journal. “I'm a progressive, I'm a humanitarian, but I can tell you that some people are irredeemable,” said Bill de Blasio on Friday. De Blasio is a liberal Democrat who ran for office promising to end years of law-enforcement policies he said unfairly targeted racial minorities. […]

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After Officer Is Shot To Death, de Blasio Seeks Changes In NY Bail Law

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for changes to state law allowing judges to consider defendants' risk to public safety when setting bail or considering incarceration-alternative programs such as the one approved last year for Tyrone Howard, who is accused of fatally shooting a police officer, the Wall Street Journal reports. “We have a system so out of balance we have both sides of the equation wrong,” the mayor said. De Blasio disagreed with a judge's approving […]

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Suit Charges PA Mentally Ill Suspects Wait Months, Years For Treatment

In a case casting new light on the justice system's struggle with mental illness, civil-rights advocates filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Pennsylvania officials, claiming mentally ill defendants in criminal cases wait months or years for treatment meant to render them fit for trial, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Federal courts have ruled that so-called competency restoration treatment should begin within seven days of a judge's order. “Yet in Pennsylvania, many wait over a year,” said the suit, filed by the […]

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Modern Methods Help Judges Solve an Old Problem

What do a newborn infant, a shortstop, and a television have in common? The answer: we can accurately predict how each will perform, because we have supplemented our own intuition with something more concrete: consistent, objective data. The Apgar Test is far better at identifying babies in distress than doctors with years of experience. The book Moneyball famously captured how a baseball player's stats could out-predict a seasoned scout. And we all gather data on electronics before making a major […]

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Foundation’s Formula To Help Judges Decide Who Should Be Released On Bail

After two years of testing, a formula developed for $1.2 million by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to help judges decide which pretrial defendants should be released on bail is being rolled out to 21 more jurisdictions including states like Arizona and New Jersey and cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh, the New York Times reports. The algorithm gives defendants two scores, one for their likelihood of committing a crime and one for their risk of failing to appear in […]

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2015 H.F. Guggenheim Conference on Crime in America

Can We All Get Along? The question posed by Rodney King over a decade ago in the wake of the Los Angeles riots is still, unfortunately, at the top of the nation's agenda in the wake of the deaths of unarmed young man at the hands of police over the past year. It was the central question of the 2015 Harry Frank Guggenheim Conference on Crime in America, held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Feb 9-10, 2015, […]

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Report: Pretrial Detention is Overused Worldwide

Around the world, an estimated 1 in 3 prisoners, or 3.3 million people, are held in pretrial detention, according to a new report from the non-profit Open Society Foundations. The report is the first examination of global pretrial conditions, and includes statistical analysis, first-person accounts and case studies of successful reforms. In central and South America, pre-trial detainees make up more than 40 percent of the incarcerated population; in central and West Africa, more than 50 percent; in south Asia, […]