from the frontlines: April 18-24, 2022

into the night

The warden who ran the jail where Jeffery Epstein killed himself was allowed to quietly retire this February, the Bureau of Prisons confirmed to the AP last week. AP (April 19, 2022)

weed continues to be put on the back burner

Despite the majority of Americans supporting the legalization of cannabis, the most recent federal legislation has hit deadlock in Congress. The DOJ could deschedule and decriminalize marijuana and Biden could pardon federal prisoners of cannabis charges, but there is no indication either agency or president will act. Arizona Mirror (April 20, 2022)

on hold

South Carolina’s highest court on Wednesday issued a temporary stay blocking the state from carrying out what was set to be its first-ever firing squad execution.” AP (April 20, 2022)

deplorable prison conditions

A department of justice investigation “uncovered evidence of systemic violations that have generated a violent and unsafe environment for people incarcerated at Parchman.” The department began investigating after a January story  detailed gang control and subhuman living conditions. MCIR (April 20, 2022)

Flakka takes over Alabama prisons

The mother of an incarcerated person in Alabama is calling for change after her son died of a suspected flakka overdose. Flakka is a notorious drug in the state’s prison system which acts much like bath salts. WBRC (April 18, 2022)

fighting for identity

Trans people with felony convictions in Illinois are fighting to be able to change their legal names. One woman’s experience of using her deadname that she believes led to housing discrimination. Injustice Watch (April 21, 2022)

continued arrests of a cop watcher raises first amendment questions

The Real News Network (April 22, 2022) 

must read: millions of TX grants assault judges

A Texas crime stopper organization is turning millions of donors and state backed grants to attack judges it labels “activist judges.” Many of the judges it attacked, cut into the organizations revenue by “curbing a common practice requiring many people sentenced to probation to pay a $50 fee that goes to Crime Stoppers. The nonprofit’s revenue from those fees has fallen by half since Democrats swept the county’s judicial races in 2018.” The Marshall Project and The New York Times (April 21, 2022)

"The evolution of Crime Stoppers of Houston underscores the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when charities become dependent on financial support from politicians. And it illustrates how nonprofit organizations technically barred from participating in political campaigns can nonetheless exert outsize influence, especially when they wade into a potent issue like violent crime."

programmed racism

The justice department says it is moving to change a tool that it uses to predict a inmates risk of returning to prison after release. Critics have pointed to it over predicting the number of Black women who will go back to prison compared to white women. If an inmate rates high of reoffending risk they can be denied early release. NPR (April 19, 2022)



Baltimore police punishments raises eyebrows; mental health faces reform in VA; D.C.’s homicide rate at 20-year high

The Department of Forensic Sciences in D.C. struggles with reform due to internal conflicts, raising concerns about the city’s criminal legal system. Former Baltimore police sergeant’s lenient sentence for misconduct stirs concerns about policing reform. Virginia State Senator dedicates career to mental health reform in the wake of personal tragedy. Former College Park Mayor is sentenced for child pornography. D.C. witnesses a two-decade high in homicides. Reports spread about crash-and-grab incidents, and imprisoned students in Maryland reflect on the power of education.

Read More »

Ex-cop in Baltimore is sentenced for misconduct in false arrests; D.C. mayor focuses on youth violence

D.C. tackles opioid crisis and youth violence with public emergency declaration. Retired Baltimore cop receives home detention for misconduct. Logan Circle small businesses doubt crime bill’s effectiveness. DAT’s questionable traffic stops spark concerns. Juvenile detention center faces crisis with rising incidents. Inmate mastermind’s escape attempt foiled.

Read More »


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Founder of The Des and freelance criminal justice reporter based in Washington, D.C.