criminal defense Archives

Racial disparity in jails and prisons narrows

According to a survey from the Council on Criminal Justice, the racial gap in jails and state prisons in Georgia and across the country has narrowed since 2000. The racial gap among those on parole or on probation has also narrowed since then. In that 2000, black people were 15 times more likely to be in a state prison because of a conviction for a drug crime than white people. However, by 2016, they were only five times more likely to be in a state prison compared to white inmates.

Breath tests are not as ironclad as once thought

Most Georgia residents link the term "Breathalyzer" with getting pulled over DUI. They understand that if a person fails a breath test, they may be charged and could possibly be arrested. However, research has shown that breath tests are not as reliable as was once thought. There is a lack of transparency and consistency when it comes to DUI testing.

Unconscious bias can present a challenge in the courtroom

When scientists examine discriminatory conduct in New Jersey and across the country, they often find that problems are less attributable to overt bigotry than to unconscious bias. Unconscious bias, or beliefs and stereotypes embraced at a subconscious level, can affect the way that people respond to others, judge their behavior or assess their intentions. Unfortunately, many of these unconscious biases reflect racist and sexist stereotypes, putting people and their liberty and even lives at risk if they enter the criminal justice system.

Shortfalls with blood pattern analysis

Georgia residents may be interested in learning the role that analyzing blood splatter has in unearthing the particulars of a crime. Blood pattern analysis can be traced back to 19th-century Europe. Since the mid-1900s, it has taken on a more prominent role in crime scene investigations in the United States.

Community service sentencing may contribute to poverty

For many in Georgia, community service sentencing in criminal cases seems to present a more humane alternative to heavy fines or jail time, especially for people living in poverty. However, one study by the UCLA Labor Center and School of Law challenges these assumptions. It argues that the widespread use of community service sentencing devalues labor and may wind up exacerbating unemployment, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. It can even produce similar effects to court debt for large fines, especially because people sentenced to community service may need to provide weeks of unpaid labor to pay off their citations.

The truth about crime in America

Getting tough on crime is something that the president has made a priority during his time in the White House. However, it is important to note that crime rates have fallen in Georgia and throughout America since the 1990s. According to the FBI, violent crime rates fell 51% between 1993 and 2018, and property crimes are also less common today compared to 30 years ago. Property crimes include burglary or motor vehicle theft.

More Americans are getting arrested for petty crimes

Arrests can ruin lives. According to a study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency, people in Georgia and around the country who have been arrested once by age 26 earn around $5,000 less each year than those with clean records. Meanwhile, people who have had multiple arrests by age 26 earn around $13,000 less per year. In addition, those with criminal records have more trouble landing jobs and getting married.

Jailhouse informants linked to almost 20% of wrongful convictions

A growing criminal justice reform movement across the country has placed greater scrutiny upon the use of jailhouse informants. According to the Innocence Project, which works to free people from prison who suffered wrongful convictions, nearly 20% of wrongful convictions arise from false testimony provided by jailhouse informants. As a result, criminal defendants in Georgia could be vulnerable to misleading statements gathered by prosecutors from their cellmates.

Not all felons are necessarily bad people

Georgia residents could be charged with a felony for calling in sick when they aren't actually ill. They could also be charged with a felony for other seemingly absurd reasons such as improperly importing primates or getting lost in the woods. However, the consequences of being a felon are nothing to laugh about. Those who are convicted of a felony could lose their right to vote in an election or carry a weapon.

Around 6% of convicts are likely innocent

Approximately 6% of state prisoners across the U.S., many of whom are presumably in Georgia, have been wrongfully convicted, according to a study by researchers at Penn State University. The findings were published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in April 2018.

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