Inequality Inquiry >> Category

How a New Ohio Law and Other State Reforms Are Changing the Landscape of Mental Health and Criminal Justice

January 24, 2022

By Bailey Martin* In 2021, Ohio became the only active death penalty state with a law that allows for resentencing of people on death row who have serious mental health conditions. While this kind of law provides an important starting point for thinking about mental health and criminal justice, courts have much further to go to protect all persons with mental health conditions from disparate impacts in the justice system.

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Does the Minneapolis Police Department Traffic Stop Data Reveal Racial Bias?

November 24, 2020

This study analyzed Minneapolis Police Department traffic stop data from 2016 to 2020 to determine if racial bias influences MPD behavior. Results of the analysis showed that Black drivers are 10.8% percent more likely to be stopped during the day, when officers can observe the driver’s race for profiling, than when Black drivers’ race is not observable during darkness. The effect was highly statistically significant and demonstrated that Minneapolis Police Department traffic stops are racially biased.

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Are New York’s Bail and Discovery Reforms in Renewed Danger?

February 9, 2022

By Kenneth Cooper* Tracking the status of these New York procedural reforms in particular (one increasing discovery obligations and the other reducing the use of cash bail in pretrial services) can shed further insight into how other attempts at reform, perhaps more substantive in nature, may play out.

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Covid-19 in Prisons: Human Rights Violations and Inmate Exploitation

January 29, 2021

Heather Chang* The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Spring of 2020 required unprecedent changes. While business and individuals have adapted their policies and behaviors to reflect health and safety recommendations, the prison system remains rigid and dangerous.  As of January 12, 2021, The Marshall Project reports that at least 343,008 prisoners tested positive…

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Deadly Force: How George Floyd’s Killing Exposes Racial Inequities in Minnesota’s Felony-Murder Doctrine Among the Disenfranchised, the Powerful, and the Police

March 8, 2021

View/Download PDF Version Greg Egan[1] I. Equity in Peril: How Felony-Murder Charging Discretion and Widely Varying Punishments are Deployed Against White Defendants, Defendants of Color, and Peace Officers Minnesota’s second-degree felony-murder statute represents a unique and creative charging mechanism that affords wide discretion to prosecutors. This makes it ripe for inequitable application. It is the…

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Biden’s Private Prison Ban Must Include ICE Detention

March 16, 2022

By Katie McCoy* Our incarceration-focused immigration system needlessly locks up hundreds of thousands of noncitizens each year. The number of people incarcerated in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody was 15,000 when President Biden first took office, and it now hovers near 29,000. Sixty-nine percent of those detained have no criminal history. Many ICE detention…

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A Healthy Start: Minnesota Is Pioneering an Alternative to Prison Nurseries, and Other States Should Follow Its Lead

March 28, 2022

by Rachel Pokrzywinski*   In May 2021, Governor Tim Walz signed Minnesota’s Healthy Start Act (HSA) into law. The first of its kind in the United States, the HSA authorizes placement of pregnant and postpartum inmates into alternative housing—such as halfway houses and residential treatment facilities—with their newborns for up to one year after birth.…

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A Constitutional Necessity, Not a Luxury: States Must Provide Public Defender Offices With More Resources to Provide Indigent Defendants With Effective Counsel

March 30, 2022

By Haashir Lakhani* The phrase “you have the right to an attorney” is so ingrained in our social conscience that we perhaps do not even give it a second thought. The task of upholding this right for indigent defendants falls largely on public defenders, with some cases being assigned to other court-appointed attorneys. However, underfunded…

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How We Got Here: Race, Police Use of Force, and the Road to George Floyd

April 1, 2021

Long before the killing of George Floyd, the United States has struggled to mitigate racially arbitrary use of force by the police. This article seeks to explain how we got to the killing of George Floyd. This article contends that that the law—especially the decisions of the Supreme Court and political choices made by politicians—has helped to enable the relatively unchecked use of force against people of color.

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Out of the Cell and Into the Fire: Inherently Dangerous Prison Work Assignments, the Eighth Amendment’s Guarantee of Safe Conditions of Confinement, and California’s AB-2147

April 13, 2022

by River Lord[1]   Using the labor of inmates in the United States has a long and controversial tradition. Many observers have identified how higher rates of policing and incarceration among minority communities, coupled with the widespread use of inmate labor in exchange for sub-minimum wages, create a system of labor exploitation and racial oppression…

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The Injustice of Inconsistency: Language Access in Judicial Proceedings

April 25, 2021

Rachel Pokrzywinski Judicial proceedings are often stressful. The stress is only compounded for an individual who must navigate the complex legal system in a language they are not proficient in. To ensure that these individuals receive adequate guidance and representation, federal law requires that, in all federal judicial proceedings, certified language interpreters must be provided…

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Purging False Narratives Around Cash Bail

October 28, 2022

By Christian Purnell.   With Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) set to take effect in a matter of months, opponents are stepping up their efforts to spread misinformation about the law on social media. Homing in on a provision of the PFA that abolishes cash bail in the state’s pretrial system, Twitter trolls, and even…

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What’s Brewing with Bruen?

October 30, 2022

Kenneth Cooper examines the impact of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), and New York’s public defender and legal aid offices unexpected involvement in the case. 

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Pass Senate Bill 355: How Proposed Minnesota Legislation Brings the U.S. into Compliance with International Norms

May 25, 2016

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by Maria Warhol
As the 2016 presidential election approaches, the issue of voting rights in the United States is more salient than ever. While millions of people will take advantage of their right to vote in the election, nearly six million U.S. citizens are unable to vote as a result of a felony conviction. Of this disenfranchised population, only 25% are incarcerated. The remaining 75% are in the process of completing supervised release (probation or parole) or have served their sentence entirely. This concern only deepens when data reveals that disenfranchisement policy disparately impacts some communities more than others. These concerning figures impact almost every state in the United States.

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