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Criminal Justice

Series

Busted

Examining Chemical Field Tests

Nuisance Abatement

The NYPD’s Aggressive Enforcement of a Little-known Law

Out of Order

When Prosecutors Cross the Line

Post Mortem

Death Investigation in America

Law & Disorder

After Katrina, New Orleans Police Under Scrutiny

Stories

Police Oversight Ordinance Promised Transparency But Doesn’t Fully Deliver

A revamped agency takes a step backward in informing the public.

Returning to the Scene of a Trauma

At 16, Brandon Whitehead and his father were held at gunpoint by an off-duty Chicago police officer. The cop got suspended for five days, which he served 11 years later. Brandon, now 27, goes back to the scene.

Nevada Pardons Wrongfully Convicted Man Featured in Our Story

The pardon clears Fred Steese’s name after state prosecutors had pushed him into an arcane plea deal even though a judge had declared he was innocent. “I’m not a felon anymore,” Steese said.

Chicago Police Skirt Punishment as Disciplinary System Fails Yet Again

Even after reporters identified lost cases, only some officers served suspensions.

Have You Ever Filed a Complaint Against a Chicago Police Officer? Tell Us What Happened.

There may be information about your case you’re unaware of.

Despite Mayor’s Pledge, Hundreds of Chicago Cops Still in Desk Jobs

Emanuel still hasn’t delivered on promise to put more civilians in desk jobs and get additional officers on the street.

Concern Grows Over Youths at Juvenile Correctional Facility Being Sent to Adult Prison

Juvenile justice officials, advocates and a federal judge expressed worry over legal representation for youths.

Time Spent in Solitary Confinement Drops Dramatically in Illinois Youth Facilities

The recognition that solitary confinement can harm young offenders led to a move away from harsh punishment at juvenile correctional centers.

For Some Youths, ‘Minor’ Offenses Lead to Major Sentences in Adult Prison

Cases threaten to undermine Illinois’ efforts at juvenile justice reform.

Why (Almost) No One Is Charged With Gun Trafficking in Illinois

It’s how the laws are written, and trafficking is hard to prove.

Putting Crime Scene DNA Analysis on Trial

We reported on a dispute over the methods used by New York City’s crime lab to analyze complex DNA samples. Now similar concerns are prompting a national study. In this Q&A, a leading expert explains why labs may be making mistakes — and what can be done about it.

How Chicago Gets Its Guns

It’s not big trafficking rings. Mostly, it’s through little guys like John Thomas.

Vegas Judge Featured in ProPublica Story Reprimanded for Ethics Violations

Judge William Kephart, who was repeatedly criticized for misconduct as a prosecutor and put at least one innocent person in prison, has been censured for a lapse on the bench.

ProPublica Seeks Source Code for New York City’s Disputed DNA Software

We’re asking a federal court for the code behind a technique that critics say may have put innocent people in prison.

What Does an Innocent Man Have to Do to Go Free? Plead Guilty.

A case in Baltimore — in which two men were convicted of the same murder and cleared by DNA 20 years later — shows how far prosecutors will go to preserve a conviction.

The Freedom Plea: How Prosecutors Deny Exonerations by Dangling the Prison Keys

New evidence pointed to innocence in the cases of these four Baltimore men, yet prosecutors would only let them go if they agreed to controversial plea deals.

Thousands of Criminal Cases in New York Relied on Disputed DNA Testing Techniques

New York City’s crime lab has been a pioneer nationally in analyzing especially difficult DNA samples. But the recent disclosure of the source code for its proprietary software is raising new questions about accuracy.

Misdemeanor Defendants Facing Jail Time Not Told They Have a Right to Counsel, Bar Association Finds

American Bar Association monitors report misdemeanor defendants in Nashville often aren’t told they are entitled to a lawyer even when their charges mean they could end up behind bars.

On Rikers Island, a Move Toward Reform Causes Trouble

Inmates in a new secure housing unit risk harm while shackled to desks, according to a New York City Board of Corrections report.

How (and Why) We’re Collecting Cook County Jail Data

ProPublica Illinois is restarting a collaborative data collection project to better understand what happens to inmates at Cook County Jail.

Houston Police End Use of Drug Tests That Helped Produce Wrongful Convictions

The cheap kits were often the sole evidence used to win guilty pleas, against the innocent as well the as guilty.

Victims in Thousands of Potential Hate Crimes Never Notify Police

A new federal survey on hate crimes offers cause for both alarm and confusion.

Former Texas Nurse Convicted of Baby-Killing Told Authorities ‘I Was Heinous.’

In a letter from prison, Genene Jones appeared to acknowledge her guilt and asked Texas nursing regulators to forgive her for a crime she committed when she was not “of sound mind.”

The Last Shot

Amid a surging opiate crisis, the maker of the anti-addiction drug Vivitrol skirted the usual sales channels. It found a captive market for its once-a-month injection in the criminal justice system.

Despite Exposés and Embarrassments, Hundreds of Judges Preside in New York Without Law Degrees

A review of the work of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct chronicles the costs of a tradition resistant to change.

Nevada Passes Modest Measures to Curb Prosecutorial Misconduct

Lobbying by prosecutors and police guts law that would have punished prosecutors who didn’t share evidence with defense. Debate cited case of Fred Steese, subject of ProPublica and Vanity Fair story.

Kafka in Vegas

Fred Steese served more than 20 years in prison for the murder of a Vegas showman even though evidence in the prosecution’s files proved he didn’t do it. But when the truth came to light, he was offered a confounding deal known as an Alford plea. If he took it he could go free, but he’d remain a convicted killer.

Vegas Judge Had Long History of Prosecutorial Misconduct

The behavior of Bill Kephart, who led the murder prosecution of Fred Steese, was repeatedly lambasted by the Supreme Court of Nevada. But that didn’t stop him from becoming a judge. This month he was charged with misconduct in that position too.

Millions for New York Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder

The award of $4.5 million by New York state is just part of a claim by a man who spent more than two decades in prison based on a dishonest prosecution.

Another Startling Verdict for Forensic Science

A recent study on the reliability of hair analysis is only latest to shake public confidence.

Busted

Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

System Failures

Houston cases shed light on a disturbing possibility: that wrongful convictions are most often not isolated acts of misconduct by the authorities but systemic breakdowns — among judges and prosecutors, defense lawyers and crime labs.

Machine Bias

There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks.

Listen to Our Collaboration with ‘This American Life’

“An Anatomy of Doubt,” a young woman’s story of rape and redemption, debuts Friday.

A Brutal Crime, Often Terribly Investigated

ProPublica and The Marshall Project’s “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” underscored the need for improving rape investigations. Here’s how.

Rape is Rape, Isn’t It?

It depends on who is counting, and what they count.

An Unbelievable Story of Rape

An 18-year-old said she was attacked at knifepoint. Then she said she made it up. That’s where our story begins.

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