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Study finds bail decisions influenced by racial prejudices

A criminal defendant in Washington might await trial in custody, or a judge may release a person who either promises to appear in court or pays bail. A research study that compared bail decisions to the races of arrested people calculated that courts detained black defendants 2.4 percent more often than white defendants. When black defendants did secure their release with bail, they paid amounts that averaged $7,281 higher than bail paid by their white counterparts.

Police are adopting new lineup tactics

Washington residents may not always be accurate when identifying a person from a lineup. In some cases, they could be influenced by something a police officer said or by some other variable that results in an innocent person being charged with a crime. Individuals may be influenced by outside cues because a person's memory of an event is not a static thing.

How mistaken identity causes many wrongful convictions

In the past two decades, more than 2,000 men and women, including some individuals in high-profile cases, have been exonerated by DNA evidence. As researchers, journalists, lawyers and civil rights groups have examined the circumstances of these wrongful convictions, mistaken identify has proven to be one of the most prevalent causes of guilty verdicts against innocent people. Activist are pushing for stricter standards when it comes to eyewitness testimony due to this discovery.

Cars on private property are protected from unwarranted searches

When law enforcement officers want to inspect a vehicle on private property in Washington, they will need to get a search warrant. The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed this protection in a recent 8-1 ruling with only Justice Samuel Alito dissenting.

Study finds 6 percent of prisoners were wrongfully convicted

When a person is exonerated for wrongful conviction based on new DNA evidence, Washington residents may hear about it, especially when the person was originally found guilty of serious crimes like murder or rape. About 3 to 5 percent of these types of cases are affected by DNA evidence. However, the estimates for exonerations of other crimes, ranging from aggravated assault to drug possession or theft, are not widely known.

How bail may influence the justice system

According to a study from the American Economic Review, there are roughly 500,000 people in U.S. jails awaiting trial on any given day. The main reason why Washington residents and others may face this situation is a lack of money. The study also found that the average defendant made less than $7,000 in the year before they were taken into custody. Therefore, less than half were able to make bail even when set at $5,000 or less.

Identity theft: A serious and confusing crime

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of crime in which a person wrongfully uses or obtains another individual's personal data in a matter that involves deception or fraud. Adding to this, the theft usually occurs so that the person stealing the data can make a financial gain.

Black men receive longer sentences for similar crimes

Facing sentencing in a criminal case can be a dangerous time for any defendant, but it can be even more complex for Black men in Washington and throughout the United States. In a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, it was shown that Black men tend to receive significantly longer sentences than white men convicted of the same or similar crimes. The sentences of Black men can be 19.1 percent longer than those of white men on average, found commission researchers when examining sentencing data for people convicted between 2012 and 2016.

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