Category: Radley Balko

A Louisiana DA will let you out of your community service obligation — if you donate to his nonprofit

In July 2012, “Kenneth” was arrested in Calcasieu Parish, La., for possession of drug paraphernalia. But rather than take the case to court, the district attorney’s office offered him a deal: He could pay $600, attend a 12-step addiction program, submit to and pass regular drug tests, attend a self-esteem workshop called CADET and perform 80 hours of community service. Complete all of that, and the state would drop the charge. He agreed.

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Atatiana Jefferson was a victim of law-and-order rhetoric

The Fort Worth Police Department released a photo of a gun they claimed to have found in Jefferson’s house, a clear attempt to head off criticism. As of yet, there’s no indication that Jefferson was holding the gun when she was shot. And, of course, even if she had been, there’s nothing illegal about having a gun in your home in Texas. If Jefferson had been holding it, it was likely because she saw men with flashlights prowling around outside her home.

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An Alabama man has been on death row for 21 years. He is almost certainly innocent.

Just after midnight on July 19, 1995, Jefferson County, Ala., deputy William Hardy was moonlighting as a security guard for the Crown Sterling Suites hotel in Birmingham. Around 12:30 a.m., Hardy must have heard something in the parking lot that got his attention, because he stepped away from his post to investigate so quickly that he left a cigarette burning in an ashtray. Within seconds, a shot rang out, sending a bullet through Hardy’s hand, and then his mouth. A second bullet ensured his fate.

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