from the frontlines: april 25 - may 1

fighting for safety inside

Cynthia Alvarado was raped in jail before going to prison to serve a life sentence for a murder she did not commit. Now, sentence overturned after she already served 12-years, Alvarado is fighting for other women who faced sexual assault while incarcerated. The Appeal (April 18, 2022)

solution or political blunder?

Two bills moving through the California legislature that propose a mental health court to address houseless people gained criticism from disability advocates who say the court “forces treatment on mentally ill people with little regard for their civil rights.”  The Sacramento Bee  (April 25, 2022)

cover up

A LA sheriff commander filed legal papers accusing the LA Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, of obstructing justice and retaliating against those who blew the whistle on a deputy who kneeled on an inmate’s head in 2021.  LA Times (April 25, 2022)

saved, for the moment

A few days before being executed Melissa Lucio was granted a stay, but she could still face being killed. Her 2-year-old daughter died after falling downstairs. Lucio was prosecuted and convicted based on a coerced false confession. Truthout (April 26, 2022)

biden makes a weak pardon effort

Biden pardoned three convicted felons and commuted 75 other sentences in the first use of his presidential clemency power. As we reported, thousands are still caught in a broken clemency system that Biden has yet to address. USA Today (April 26, 2022)

fighting for identity

In six years, a special LA diversion program kept over 3,500 people with serious mental health disorders, physical illnesses and/or substance abuse issues out of jail. But for over a year, it hasn’t been able to take on new clients and no new funds have been proposed to expand capacity. LAist (April 27, 2022)

a pattern of racism before Floyd's murder

“The Minneapolis Police Department has engaged in a pattern of race discrimination for at least a decade, including stopping and arresting Black people at a higher rate than white people, using force more often on people of color and maintaining a culture where racist language is tolerated, a state investigation launched after George Floyd’s killing found.”
AP (April 27, 2022) 

it's not the kids

As car jackings sweep the nation, a new study sheds light on motives in Chicago. It’s not vagabond youth joy riding on four wheels, but adults with economic motives selling cars on the black market. WBEZ (April 27, 2022)

Michigan faces prison staff shortage

“There are worker shortages in just about every industry these days and Michigan’s prison system isn’t immune– a new bill aims to change that by allowing recently retired corrections officers to return to the job temporarily.” FOX17 (April 25, 2022)

"Collier lived close to the place where Emmett Till had been lynched 16 years earlier. Yet her case didn’t have the same kind of national attention and staying power—at the time, the media often got her name wrong, misspelling it as “Jo Etha.” Her killing, and the subsequent court proceedings, did briefly galvanize civil-rights activists during the 1970s, but her story has since faded from the public imagination."

Must Read: a black girl's death faded from memory

An 18-year-old Black teenager was shot dead by a car filled with three drunk white men in 1971, her case never drew the attention that Emmet Till’s lynching did. A conviction sent her murder to prison, but he got out quickly. Her case exposes the truth behind the rose colored narrative of the civil rights movement. The Atlantic (April 28, 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.