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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

Risk Assessments in Cook County Ineffective

by Jayson Hawkins

Risk assessments have been championed as a tool to help remove bias from criminal justice decisions. While there have been improvements in some areas, overall performance has fallen short of many expectations. Cook County, Illinois, began using the Public Safety Assessment (“PSA”) four years ago as a ...

Civil Death Laws: When Life is Death

by Jayson Hawkins

Certain human rights are inalienable, even for incarcerated individuals. When Joshua Davis received a shot of insulin in 2018 that was tainted with other prisoners’ blood, the resulting lawsuit against the institution that risked exposing him to a host of deadly diseases should have been a slam ...

Flaws in Mobile Phone Records Free Danish Prisoners

by Jayson Hawkins 

Over 10,000 criminal cases have come under review in Denmark due to doubts that have arisen about how reliable evidence taken from cellphone geolocation software actually is. As of mid-­September 2019, 32 prisoners have been released as a result of demanding their convictions be overturned ...

Forensic Science: Reliable and Valid?

by Jayson Hawkins

The headlines have become too familiar: DNA shows wrong person imprisoned for decades-old crime. 

Over 300 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence, and that number will only continue to rise as more cases are scrutinized. That begs the question of what has led to so ...

New Hampshire Ends Death Penalty

by Jayson Hawkins 

Michael Addison, the sole occupant of New Hampshire’s death row, is breathing a little easier these days. Thanks to a two-thirds majority in both the state’s House and Senate, the state’s legislature overrode Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of their bill abolishing capital punishment. The ...

MIX13 Reveals Potential Errors in DNA Testing

by Jayson Hawkins

A federal study from 2013 showed that manually sorting DNA mixtures is not as foolproof as previously believed. MIX13, which sent the same hypothetical cases to 108 crime labs around the U.S., tested the accuracy of traditional DNA analysis. Each of the five cases grew more complicated ...

Pitfalls of Using Risk Assessment Tools

by Jayson Hawkins

In the push for criminal justice reform, several ideas have emerged to help fix our broken system.

Many experts have promoted risk assessments as effective tools that could be employed at every level of criminal justice to provide more objective standards. Widespread use of these tools is ...

Getting Rid of the ‘X’

by Jayson Hawkins

Doing time has never been easy, yet the greatest challenges many prisoners face often come after their release. Basic concerns like securing a job, housing, and credit can be recurring nightmares for ex-convicts. 

The recent push to “Ban the Box” — get rid of questions about ...

Killer Cops and Vilified Victims

by Jayson Hawkins

In Pericles’ famous funeral oration (circa 430 BC), the classical Greek statesman exhorted his audience never to speak ill of the dead. His advice has been considered part of basic human decency ever since--unless one happens to be a district attorney explaining why local police have murdered ...



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