Missouri residents may be interested in a study that shows that some wrongful convictions involve more than just misconduct by the prosecutors or police. One example of this is a man who spent almost three decades in prison for a murder of which he said he was innocent. The conviction was based on the testimony of supposed eyewitnesses who were later said to have been coerced by prosecutors.
Asset forfeiture is a serious civil liberties concern for many people in Kentucky, especially as it is a form of punishment that can be applied despite the absence of a criminal conviction or even criminal charges in some cases. The policy, which escalated in use during the "war on drugs" in the 1980s, allows law enforcement agencies to seize assets that they believe to be linked to criminal activity. While the policy is promoted with references to large-scale raids on major drug traffickers, a significant number of asset forfeiture cases involve relatively small sums being collected from people who cannot afford to lose them.
Missouri is among many states across the country where people in poverty are suffering particularly damaging consequences from initially minor brushes with the criminal justice system. Towns, cities, counties and state governments are increasingly relying on citations, fines and court fees to balance their budgets. Instead of raising taxes, which impact all residents and are often tied to income and wealth, these localities are depending on fines to cover basic costs of local services. As a result, poor people who are unable to pay the fees are suffering disproportionate effects of this type of enforcement.
Missouri defendants in criminal trials may obtain an acquittal or a dismissal in a case through exculpatory evidence. Exculpatory evidence is defined as anything that would tend to establish that a person is not guilty of committing a crime. Data from a cellphone or DNA test results could be examples of this type of evidence.
Missouri residents may believe that neighborhood crime apps and other recording devices keep them safe. However, it may simply scare them into thinking that crime is prevalent in their area when it may not be. It may also lead to enhancing stereotypes about minorities and other groups who may be incorrectly labeled as criminals. In many cases, police departments use information from these apps and other recording devices when developing law enforcement plans.
According to research from Pew, a Missouri resident's view on the criminal justice system may be partially based on his or her race. Among African-Americans who were asked by Pew about their opinion of the criminal justice system, 87% said that it was unfair toward minorities. Only 61% of white Americans who took part in the survey said the same thing. Black Americans were also more likely to say that gun violence and violent crime in general were major problems in the United States.
Loss prevention is taken seriously at Apple stores in Missouri and around the country, but the company now faces a lawsuit seeking $1 billion in damages because of its alleged zeal in this area. The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a New York teenager on April 22, claims that Apple's use of facial recognition technology to track shoplifters led to false theft charges in four states. According to the teen, the real shoplifter presented Apple store security personnel with a stolen non-photo driver's permit bearing his name that was then used to link him to a series of thefts.
The legal status of marijuana nationwide is constantly changing. Although Marijuana the drug remains illegal under federal law, many states have legalized it for medical (and sometimes recreational) use. Others, like Missouri, have decriminalized possession. We also legalized medical use in 2018.
Missouri residents may be concerned that police are increasingly drawing blood from motorists stopped under suspicion of driving under the influence. As police more frequently charge motorists with driving under the influence of drugs like marijuana, rather than alcohol, a typical breath test may uncover nothing at all. Now, police can seek a warrant immediately, often via electronic transmission, to allow them to collect blood from a driver stopped on the roadside. The process of obtaining a warrant from a judge can take as little as 10 minutes.
People in Missouri may have good reason to fear a false conviction, especially if they are facing criminal charges for a crime they did not commit. In 2018 alone, prisoners were exonerated who had served a combined total of over 1,600 years in prison despite the fact that they were innocent of the charges against them. In a report by the National Registry of Exonerations, the organization noted that 151 people were released from their sentences in 2018 with an average sentence of around 11 years per person.