Racial disparities among state prison inmates in Minnesota and around the country are becoming much less pronounced, but the figures show that African Americans are still incarcerated at much higher rates than whites. This was just one of the conclusions found in a report on prison demographics released on Dec. 3 by the Council on Criminal Justice. The nonpartisan organization also noticed a narrower disparity between the number of black and white individuals on parole or probation.
Minnesota residents who watch shows like 'CSI" on television may be surprised to learn that questions have been raised about the validity of forensic evidence and the qualifications of the experts who provide it. After studying the way hairs, fingerprints and fibers are gathered and processed, a panel of scientists, academics and legal experts found problems with virtually every technique and concluded that the interpretation of forensic evidence is often based on subjective factors rather than science. Their findings were published in 2009 by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Minnesota residents could be harmed if a police officer engages in misconduct. In some cases, misconduct could include lying on a witness stand or otherwise providing inaccurate information in a criminal matter. Recognizing this possibility, groups in Florida, California and Texas have sent letters to authorities in those states. The letters ask that police officers who engage in misconduct not be allowed to testify in criminal cases.
In Minnesota and throughout the country, people use apps and social media channels to keep tabs on what is going on in their communities. However, these apps may not be the best way to stay informed about local events or issues. In some cases, the alerts that they issue are nothing more than nuisances or blatant attempts to scare people. Individuals may receive reports about people knocking on doors or putting glue on mailboxes.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, prisoners in Minnesota and throughout the country lost over 1,600 years to wrongful convictions in 2018. That was the highest figure since this statistic was first tracked in 1989. In 2018, there were 151 prisoners who were released after it was determined that they hadn't committed the crime they were convicted of. Those individuals served an average of 11 years in custody.
Black defendants in Minnesota and throughout the United States are 2.4 percent more likely to be held during the legal process than white defendants. This is the key finding in a study to be published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. Furthermore, it was determined that bail for black defendants was higher and that both white and black judges seemed to be biased against them.
Police in Minnesota and throughout America will need a warrant to search a vehicle located on private property. The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of a defendant who had been taken into custody after being suspected of stealing a motorcycle. Police believed that the motorcycle in question was sitting in the man's driveway under a tarp. After completing a search, they took him into custody when he arrived back at his home.