Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Criminal Justice

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Italy’s highest court acquits Amanda Knox of murder; case closed

The highest court in Italy has acquitted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murdering British student Meredith Kercher. The decision ends a criminal prosecution that has stretched on for more than half a decade. Knox was initially found guilty in 2009, then cleared in 2011, then convicted again in 2014. Unlike the United States, Italy does not have a prohibition against double jeopardy, which prevents the state from continuing to prosecute after losing a case.

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Pope Francis calls death penalty ‘unacceptable,’ urges abolition

The Holy Father released a statement emphatically calling for an end to the barbaric practice of executions following a meeting with the International Commission Against the Death Penalty.

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Not a joke: Utah Republicans want to bring back firing squads

So much for family values and the sanctity of life: Republicans in Utah have passed a bill bringing back firing squads to execute prisoners on death row if the state finds it can no longer obtain drugs to administer lethal injections.

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In joint editorial, Catholic publications call for end to capital punishment

Four Catholic publications, including the conservative Our Sunday Visitor and the progressive Jesuit magazine America, have jointly published a powerful editorial calling for abolition – an end to the death penalty. It’s worth a read.

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Russia’s Boris Nemtsov, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin, shot dead

An opposition leader to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been murdered while crossing a bridge within sight of the Kremlin, the Russian Interior Ministry says. Boris Nemtsov had previously expressed fears that Vladimir Putin would arrange to have him killed due to his opposition to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.


Selma is now… The struggle for justice is now. The Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. Right now the struggle for justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people march with our song, we want to tell you: we see you, we are with you, we love you, and march on.

John Legend, accepting the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Glory, for the acclaimed film Selma) with Common.


The failure to indict is a stunning miscarriage of justice, and makes clear that equal protection under the law does not exist for all Americans… What more does America need to see? We are better than this as a country.

— U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, reacting to a Staten Island grand jury’s failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner earlier this year.

Seattle demonstrators protest Missouri grand jury's failure to return a verdict in Michael Brown shooting

Demonstrators are pictured in Seattle protesting a Missouri grand jury’s failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown (Photo: Tiffany Von Arnim/Reproduced under a Creative Commons license)


Thoughts on tonight’s shameful press conference by St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch

Earlier this evening, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch held a long, self-serving press conference to disclose that the grand jury he decided to make responsible for deciding whether charges ought to be brought against Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown had not returned an indictment. It was a shamefully staged event that has deservedly drawn much ridicule and scorn.

Here are some reactions to McCulloch’s statement, compiled from Twitter:

David Corn: This is a defensive statement. You can guess why.

Adam Bonin: McCullough has no right to claim to “join with” the Brown family or civil rights organizations about *anything*. That’s offensive.

Stephen Rose: The prosecutor defends the accused and presents his statement as the verdict. Is something wrong with that picture?

Congressman John Lewis: I know this hard. I know this is difficult. Do not succumb to the temptations of violence. There is a more powerful way.

Nichole: Shoot up a movie theater; blow up a marathon. Get taken alive. Steal blunts; hold a toy gun. Die.

Meredith Clark: This is unbelievable. If you’re not going to indict, say that. Don’t indict the public.

Judd Legum: Let’s not pretend this was an outcome of a well functioning judicial system that we are obligated to “accept”.

Ryan Grim: On probable cause: My car has been searched many times on less evidence than exists to merely charge Darren Wilson.

NPI President Robert Cruickshank: Indicted: Twitter. Media. Witnesses. Not indicted: officer who murdered a black man.

St. Louis Public Radio is uploading copies of the evidence that the grand jury considered while deliberating on whether to indict.


I realize this may sound harsh… but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.

— Oklahoma Republican Mike Christian, professing his disturbing enthusiasm for state-sponsored judicial killing, which many Christian denominations (including the Catholic Church) resoundingly oppose on moral grounds.


It looks like a street-level drug deal. And they’re keeping all the information secret from us… They don’t need to be carrying out any more executions until they come clean, until we know exactly what happened with Clayton’s execution and everything about these drugs, where they’re getting them.

— Dean Sanderford, a lawyer for the man that the State of Oklahoma slaughtered on Tuesday, Clayton Lockett. (The Washington Post: For more states, execution means improvisation as drug supplies dwindle)

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie

From the Prison Policy Initiative: “This briefing presents the first graphic we’re aware of that aggregates the disparate systems of confinement in this country, which hold more than 2.4 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.”