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criminal justice

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 2016 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.

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.

Barry Massey was the youngest person sentenced to life in prison without parole in the United States. Now he will go free.

Lawmakers working on fixes to the justice system say that unrest in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore is pushing them to act.

"The whole idea of a young man dying in police custody, the confrontations with police, the looting and burning of innocent minority owned businesses," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor this month. "The question arises, what can we do?"

Guns line the walls of the firearms reference collection at the Washington Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Washington, D.C.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

For years, Tulalip tribal officials have been pressing for better access to criminal databases. Then the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School last fall made the reason all too clear.

Tribal records should have blocked the purchase of the gun used in the shooting. But the records never traveled the seven miles between the Tulalip Tribal Court and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Freedom could be just weeks away for the youngest person in the U.S. sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Nationally, there’s a push to outlaw incarceration of students for skipping school and other non-criminal behavior and use alternatives.

But some judges are reluctant to give detention up.

School districts in Washington are required to file a truancy petition with juvenile court when a student is chronically absent. Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge David Edwards believes detention is one way to get a kid who’s not following court orders back on track.

'I think you need a tune-up'

law court crime
Flickr Photo/Joe Gratz (CC BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bkUna

On a Friday in April 2013, King County District Court Judge Victoria Seitz had 66 cases on her docket. “We have too many cases and not enough court time, and so forth, to deal with them,” she announced to the court.

Steve Scher talks with Seattle University School of Law professor Robert Boruchowitz about a federal judge's decision that Mount Vernon and Burlington municipal courts have not provided adequate public defense services to indigent clients.

Envios / Flickr

The United States Supreme Court decided Thursday that a Colville man received an excessive prison sentence when a federal judge overstepped his bounds.

The high court’s ruling was welcome news to Matthew Descamps’ family.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

The Seattle Police Department is preparing to hire more than 300 new officers in the next five years, and it wants to do things differently.

U.S. Attorney's Office

A Seattle man received an 18-year prison sentence on terrorism charges on Monday after plotting to attack a military installation in South Seattle.

Joseph McEnroe
AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey

Both of King County’s death penalty cases are on hold pending appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. A key issue in both cases is whether the defendants have experienced any hardships that should have required prosecutors to be more lenient.

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