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Articles by Jayson Hawkins

SCOTUS Goes Live on Camera

For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a conference call in May 2020. Ten arguments involving 13 cases were scheduled over six days. The measure was deemed necessary for the Supreme Court to continue to function amid the pandemic, as the majority of the justices are considered especially vulnerable to the coronavirus because of age and/or underlying medical issues.

Perhaps more significant than the justices working from home was that the proceedings were broadcast live to the general public, which had never been done before. On 27 prior occasions, the Supreme Court had allowed audio recordings of arguments to be released on the day they occurred, but the only way to follow the proceedings in real time was to attend in person. The Supreme Court has always been a public institution, but the necessity of having to be in Washington, D.C., early enough to get in line for ...

Chicago’s Police Torture Reparations

The story of police torture in Chicago begins with Jon Burge. In 1972, Burge returned to his job as a detective on the South Side of Chicago after serving a tour as an interrogator in Vietnam.

The brutal techniques he had learned in Southeast Asia—electric shock, suffocation, beating the genitals with a rubber hose—were applied to hundreds of victims, almost all of whom were people of color. Burge obtained countless confessions that sent these victims to prison and even death row. For 20 years, authorities in the police, judiciary, and mayor’s office looked the other way as Burge’s hand-picked crew of officers terrorized the South Side, and Burge himself was rewarded with promotions and commendations.

This reign of terror began to come under fire in 1989 when one of the victims of Burge’s crew brought their behavior to light during a civil ...

Police Violence and the 14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment was one of several constitutional changes made in the wake of the Civil War. The necessity of guarantees outlined in the due process clause had become all too apparent in the Reconstruction South. The authors of the amendment reported to Congress that across the South orchestrated campaigns of violence and intimidation were being carried out against freed Blacks by White police officers. In the summer of 1866, for example, policemen were instrumental in leading organized attacks on Blacks that left hundreds dead. The conclusion of Congress, and the state legislatures that would ratify the amendment, was that without new constitutional guarantees, state and local governments in the South would not respect the lives or fundamental rights of Black citizens.

The amendment was duly ratified, and Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1873, which encoded the amendment in Chapter 42
§ 1983 of the U.S. ...

The Power of Filming Police

Problems With Predictive Policing

Without the luxury of pre-cognitive abilities, modern police agencies ...

U.S. Police Have History of Infiltrating Protests

by Jayson Hawkins

Despite the fact that the rights to free speech and the petitioning of the government for redress of grievances are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the American government has a long history of treating dissenters and progressive activists like criminals. Dissent was actually criminalized during World War ...

Neuroscience and Criminal Cases

Survey: California Cops Abusing Privacy Rights with Auto Plate Readers

Automated license-plate readers (“ALPRs”) have come into wider use among law enforcement circles, touted for making the jobs of police easier and more efficient.

The technology employs high-speed cameras in cop cars, on top of streetlights, and other  locations to record the license plate of every single ...

ATF: What Is a Gun?

Making a decision about what is or is not a “firearm” under the law would seem to be a fairly straightforward process, but recent controversy about the regulations used by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive (“ATF”) has shown that the definition of a ...

FBI’s Long History of Squelching Political Dissent Under the Guise of National Security

by Jayson Hawkins

For nearly a century, one of the most important duties of the FBI has been to act as the primary counterterrorism force on American soil. Unfortunately, throughout that time, the FBI has shown a troubling tendency to surveil dissidents and view challenges to the status quo as ...



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