criminal justice

Judge Judith Hightower, far left, is retiring after 25 years at Seattle Municipal Court.

Judith Hightower recently retired after 25 years as a judge in Seattle's Municipal Court. She spoke to KUOW's Kim Malcolm about being a woman and an African American on the bench and how the experience affected her.

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The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said Friday it will move to prevent its drugs from being used in lethal injections.

Marchers on Thur. Feb 25 protested the killing of Che Taylor by the Seattle Police, shot on Feb. 22.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Officials at the Seattle Police Department and its civilian oversight office say so far, they have found no basis for criminal prosecution of police officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller in the shooting of Che Taylor on Feb. 21.

The era of the real-life whodunit series is upon us. The podcast Serial first attracted legions of listeners drawn to the question of whether a young man should have been put in prison for the murder of his former high school girlfriend. HBO's documentary The Jinx focused on a trail of murdered and missing intimates of a troubled scion of a wealthy family.

More than 15 years after he was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Adnan Syed has been granted a hearing to let his lawyers present a possible alibi and questions about cellphone data. Attorneys for Syed, the key figure in the popular podcast Serial, also want to probe "alleged prosecutorial misconduct."

Civil rights lawyers are using a new strategy to change a common court practice that they have long argued unfairly targets the poor.

At issue is the way courts across the country sometimes issue arrest warrants for indigent people when they fall behind on paying court fees and fines owed for minor offenses like traffic tickets. Last year, an NPR investigation showed that courts in all 50 states are requiring more of these payments. Now attorneys are aggressively suing cities, police and courts, forcing reform.

Karen Taylor works to prevent youth of color from ending up in prison, as she did.
Courtesy of Karen Taylor

Karen Taylor is at a park near where she grew up in Renton. She comes here to pray and to walk. "My mother used to walk this trail," she said. "It's a nice place. Quiet. Serene."

Taylor's childhood here was anything but serene.

Joseph McEnroe was found guilty in the 2007 murders of his ex-girlfriend's family -- four adults and two children.
AP Pool Photo/Ellen Banner

A woman charged in the murder of her family in Carnation, Washington, will not face the death penalty, the King County prosecutor said Wednesday.

The state of Washington is under a federal court order to address the issue of mentally ill inmates languishing in jail. But the problem has actually gotten worse, not better.

The Washington state Department of Corrections recently signed a contract with the GEO Group to send up to 1000 inmates to Michigan.

Accused criminals in Washington could be required to pay thousands of dollars for drug and alcohol monitoring while they await trial.

A man sentenced to decades in prison for the shotgun slaying of a Spokane pizza delivery driver won’t go free -- at least for now.

The thing Sara Garcia remembers from the day her son, Mark, got out of prison was the hug — the very, very awkward hug. He had just turned 21 and for the past two and a half years, he'd been in solitary confinement.

"He's not used to anyone touching him," Garcia says. "So he's not used to hugs. And I mean we grabbed him. I mean, we hugged him. We held him. I mean, it was just surreal to just know I can finally give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek."

Kalief Browder, the young man who was held for years in a New York jail without a trial, killed himself on Saturday.

Browder was the subject of a profile in The New Yorker. He was 16 years old when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack. Because his family was unable to raise his $10,000 bail, Browder languished at Rikers Island for three years awaiting trial.