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criminal justice

The DNA molecule is elegant, personal, and can give away a lot more secrets than it lets on.
Flickr Photo/Michał Kosmulski (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/BTfEMJ

The Golden State Killer’s arrest last week brought closure to victims and community members affected by a ten year spree of rapes and murder. The trail went cold in 1986, and it stayed that way until the FBI made a fake profile for the killer on a genealogy website. They used this to trace 500 partial matches, screen for 100 potential matches, and eventually narrow down to former police officer Joseph DeAngelo.

KUOW/Amy Radil

Marilyn Balcerak said she can predict that the birthdays of her son and stepdaughter will be hard. What’s harder to predict are the random events that will take her back to the day when her son James — who had autism and struggled with depression — killed his stepsister Brianna and then himself in 2015. One of those events was the shooting at the high school in Florida last week.

In recent years, Washington state has led the nation in locking up kids for running away, skipping school and other non-criminal behavior. Now state lawmakers are considering whether to ban juvenile detention for "status offenses".

Raphael Sanchez is seen in U.S. District Court in Seattle in this artist's sketch.
Sketch by Peter Millett

People who’ve worked with Raphael Sanchez say they’re shocked to see the complex fraud he carried out for more than four years, for his own personal gain.

Legal marijuana sales exceeded $1.3 billion in Washington state in fiscal year 2017.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

People with pot possession records in Seattle may be about to catch a break. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced today a plan to ask the city's municipal court to drop charges and vacate convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Lyft, Uber Drivers May Face Fingerprint Background Checks

Feb 2, 2018

Uber and Lyft drivers may soon have to undergo tougher background checks in Washington state. Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require drivers to pass a fingerprint background check before being allowed to operate.

"Why did he even have a gun?" — it's a common refrain in America, often after mass shootings by people who legally aren't supposed to have firearms.

One of the worst recent examples was the massacre in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church last November, in which 26 people were killed by a man whose domestic violence conviction should have barred him from buying guns.

Yesler Community Center
City of Seattle Photo

The thousands of people facing Seattle Municipal Court arrest warrants got a chance to straighten things out Thursday, but only 20 of them showed up.

That result wasn’t unexpected, according to the organizers with the court and the defender’s office.


Claudia Pineda, right, interprets for a woman who suffered domestic abuse from her 13-year-old son.
KUOW photo/Patricia Murphy

Vicky used to hide the knives in her home, but not because of the ex-husband who she says was abusive.

She was being beaten by her 13-year-old son.

Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington.
GoogleMaps

Youth charged as adults in King County will no longer be detained at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

County Executive Dow Constantine signed an order Thursday effectively ending a practice that many youth justice advocates said was inhumane.

Co-director of HYPE, Charissa Eggleston, center, shows off a yogurt parfait that she made during the Federal Way Youth Action Team program HYPE, at the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club on Saturday, August 5, 2017, in Federal Way
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Last summer, worried parents gathered at Federal Way City Hall. There had been an uptick in violence in the city -- including three gun deaths that May.

Most of the kids being referred to the courts were black. The chatter was that the city was ill-equipped to reach kids of color, and it was time for the community to step in.


Tommy Le's family sit front and center at Asian Counseling and Referral Services (ACRS) in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Angela Nhi Nguyen

A community forum was held Wednesday night in Seattle, to give people a chance to talk about the fatal officer-involved shooting of 20-year-old Tommy Le. Parents of the young man spoke about his death.

Alternative sentencing programs have reduced the number of kids in King County’s juvenile jail, but they’re still disproportionately black.

The county council’s Law and Justice Committee got an update this week on efforts to address the problem.


A noted art collector and philanthropist has sold a major painting for an eye-popping $165 million to raise money for criminal justice reform.

Agnes Gund sold Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 work Masterpiece, reportedly to billionaire hedge fund manager and art collector Steve Cohen. The sale apparently took place months ago; an art industry newsletter reported on the transaction in January, but Gund would not confirm it.

Tara Moss
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

When Tara Moss walked into the juror room at King County District Court in Seattle, she did what she says many black people do in white spaces. 


Week in Review guest host C.R. Douglas.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It’s the last Week In Review of 2016. We’ll be taking a look back at the biggest local stories and looking forward to the news of 2017. 

Durell Green is voting for the first time in 2016. 'I feel like a citizen again, like my rights are almost all the way restored.'
KUOW Photos/Gil Aegerter

You know how you get your ballot in the mail, and you throw it in with the pile of fall catalogs and bills? And you say to yourself: “Oh, yeah, voting. Yeah. Gotta get to that.”

Well, that's not what it's like for former prisoners like Susan Mason taking advantage of a change in state law. She anticipated her ballot this year.


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

The woman had been booked into King County Jail for driving with a suspended license.

When she appeared between Judge Judith Hightower, she asked her to be released because she had to get home in time for her 10-year-old boy.


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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.

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