Al Jazeera America Series on U.S. Criminal Justice System

Al Jazeera America has just begun airing an 8 part series on the flaws in our criminal justice system. The first episode aired last night, and addressed coerced and false confessions. The remaining topics:

  • Episode 2: Mandatory Sentencing
  • Episode 3: Flawed Forensics (FBI Lab)
  • Episode 4: Eyewitness Identification
  • Episode 5: Parole
  • Episode 6: Juvenile Justice
  • Episode 7: Broken Windows: Policing Strategies
  • Episode 8: Prosecutorial Integrity

Reuters has more on the show here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Looks Great! (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by squeaky on Mon May 19, 2014 at 11:24:50 AM EST
    And long over due public airing of how we have become Prison Nation.

    PBS Has Been at it for a Long Time (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by RickyJim on Mon May 19, 2014 at 11:37:49 AM EST
    Yep (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon May 19, 2014 at 11:39:54 AM EST
    It's not big bird they are worried about

    Well Then (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Mon May 19, 2014 at 11:48:33 AM EST
    A great addition to a long overdue review of Criminal Justice policy in our Prison Nation.

    Nobody cares about PBS (none / 0) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 20, 2014 at 12:55:05 PM EST
    But when the Muslims come to town and start assessing how ungreat we are,   WELL I NEVER.....

    Hopefully new eyes, new discussions, I'll settle new public fighting.  I'm sick of just paying to lock up those who can't afford an attorney and weed smokers.

    Having to go to jail for small offenses that YOU may have not even committed is now just another form of economic inequality in this country.  And a bunch of scummy prison contractors are making a fortune while the struggling tax payer pays for this injustice.


    OPB ran an excellent feature today (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by ZtoA on Mon May 19, 2014 at 09:13:22 PM EST
    about rising court fees and how they are passed onto defendants. Many defendants cannot pay the fees or penalties on those fees. Some snips:

    One example was a case in Westminster, Colo. Jared Thornburg was ticketed for making an illegal left turn. He went to court and the offense was dropped to driving a "defective vehicle," a ticket with $165 worth of fines and fees. At the time, he was homeless and unemployed. He had recently lost a job at an oil field after a serious workplace injury. So he couldn't pay the ticket.


    in 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled -- in Bearden vs. Georgia -- that people can't be sent to jail simply for being too poor to pay fines and fees. The court said someone could be sentenced only if they had the money and had "willfully" refused to pay. But the justices did not define what that meant. The result is that it's often left to judges to make the difficult calculation: Who's too poor to pay. And who can, but didn't.


    The roots of the growing practice to add more fines and fees can be dated back to the start of America's tough-on-crime policies, beginning with the War on Crime in the 1970s and then the War on Drugs in the 1980s. In 40 years, the number of people behind bars in the U.S. jumped 700 percent. Jails, prisons and courtrooms became overcrowded. And the costs of running them, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, rose from $6 billion for states in 1980 to more than $67 billion a year in 2010.


    The NPR survey found, with help from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, that in at least 43 states and D.C., defendants can be billed for a public defender. We found two typical charges: an up-front application fee to hire a lawyer, which can range from $10 to $400; and reimbursement fees, which can cost thousands of dollars.


    Seems like this is the inevitable result of (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ruffian on Tue May 20, 2014 at 11:45:47 AM EST
    'tough on crime' + 'no new taxes' . They want to arrest more people, but do not want to pay for it.

    The marketers (none / 0) (#8)
    by jondee on Tue May 20, 2014 at 01:54:08 PM EST
    who, as the late Bill Hicks said, should all kill themselves, have taught our politicians and their vaunted "consultants" well..

    Tough-on-crime is an outgrowth of the same appeal-to-base-emotions that's behind using T&A to sell beer on tv..the same manipulative appeal to our primitive side that pays for the the Southern televangelists private jets and keeps Fox and AM talk radio going..

    We don't want smart people here in this country, we want impulse buyers..    


    jondee, the Marketers, (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Tue May 20, 2014 at 02:24:39 PM EST
    in the "consumption" economy we have established here, are doing, as Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, CEO, famously stated, are doing "God's Work." (He, actually was talking about Banksters, but, they are all cut from the same cloth)

    "Buy, consume, stuff, gorge, increase, replace, more newer, more better, more bigger, but, always, more, more, more!!!!"

    A "smart" shopper is anathema to our economy, but, a "thrifty" shopper is a traitor. There's no more such a thing as buying what you "need," if you don't want more, more, more, well, you're a Communist.

    Our entire economy, as represented by our Stock Market, requires increases, much as a Vampire requires blood.

    Television is rapidly approaching a state whereby I, simply can't watch it any more. 50% programming, 50% commercials. 40-50 commercials per one hour program is becoming the standard.

    And, the saddest thing of all is......it works. When millions of our poorest citizens line up overnite for the thrill of killing each other in the stampede that ensues, for the pleasure of being swept into Walmart to buy some grossly understocked "Specials," we have lost the war......., and our civilization.


    The way Golden Sacks and friends works too (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 20, 2014 at 02:31:16 PM EST
    The population must continue to increase or how they have they have been allowed to structure the economy will collapse.  We must either have emerging markets (new cultures beginning to embrace consumerism) wanting to drive cars or population growth.

    150 + years ago (none / 0) (#12)
    by jondee on Tue May 20, 2014 at 02:45:09 PM EST
    Samuel Butler said that eventually "the machines" would take over and use us as hosts to reproduce themselves..

    What we have now is an "Economy" (stupid!) that's colonized us, and by "us" I mean our hearts and minds..like The Matrix..The Economists are the High Priests; the Holy Men, Mystics, and Prophets are the Warren Buffets and Bill Gates and John Paulsons..And everyone lives in mortal fear that the Economy will turn his face from us and cast us out to wander in the desert..


    Rebuplicanism in my lifetime (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Tue May 20, 2014 at 02:32:26 PM EST