For the past seven years, I have written a year-end “wish list” of criminal justice reforms I’d like to see happen in the common year. Here’s mine for 2021, with ways you can get involved below. What’s on your wish list?

EDITED (11/20/20): A federal judge temporarily delayed the December 8th execution of Lisa Montgomery, so that her lawyers can recover and prepare a clemency petition. Read on, as the fight for her life continues.


Lisa Montgomery is scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 8th. Montgomery would be…

While we wait for final confirmation that Joe Biden won the presidency, one thing is clear: this election was a win for criminal justice reform.

State and Local Criminal Justice Wins

Around the country, drug reform initiatives passed. New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota now count themselves among the 15 states, plus Washington DC, that…

Once an event is mislabeled as a crime, forward momentum takes over — especially when there’s already a suspect

Photo: Choochart Choochaikupt/EyeEm/Getty Images

In 2012, Rodricus Crawford was wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in Louisiana for the murder of his one-year-old son, Roderius. Years later, it was revealed that Roderius had not been killed but rather had died from pneumonia and sepsis in his lungs.

How, then, did Crawford wind up on…

Julius Jones has spent the last 20 years on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder he has always said he didn’t commit.

It’s stories like his that should make us put an end to the death penalty.

In the fall of 1998, Jones was a freshman engineering student at the…

Robert Fuller, a twenty-four-year old black man, was found on June 10th, hanging from a tree near City Hall in Palmdale, California. With very little investigation, the local police quickly declared his death to be an apparent suicide, a response that Fuller’s family and friends flatly disputed. …

Millions of Americans have now watched the stomach-turning scene over and over: George Floyd handcuffed, lying prostrate on his stomach in the asphalt street, pleading for his life, calling for his mother, gasping “I can’t breathe.” All the while, Derek Chauvin, hands casually resting in his pockets, continues to deeply…

Walter “Arkie” Barton is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on Tuesday, May 19th. Missouri may well be executing an innocent man.

Walter “Arkie” Barton

Barton’s Five Trials and the Prosecution Unit that Led the Charge

In 1991, 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler was stabbed to death at her home in a trailer park. …

The criminal justice system abounds with inequities. Today’s news headlines are full of stories about our nation’s jail and prisons, where poor people and people of color, who make up a far larger percentage of the incarcerated in this country than they should, face unchecked exposure to the coronavirus. …

New Jersey just took a major step toward protecting the public from the coronavirus. It ordered the release of nearly 1,000 low-level offenders in county jails — which represents about one-tenth of the jail population.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

This makes good sense. Jails and prisons are breeding grounds for viral diseases.

People in…

Jessica S. Henry

Criminal Justice Reform/Prof/Fmr public defender. Blog@ au:Smoke but No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes that Never Happened

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store