Justice In America

Justice In America Podcast

Justice in America, hosted by Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith, is a podcast for everyone interested in criminal justice reform— from those new to the system to experts who want to know more. Each episode we cover a new criminal justice issue. We explain how it works and look at its impact on people, particularly poor people and people of color. We’ll also interview activists, practitioners, experts, journalists, organizers, and others, to learn. By the end of the episode, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of what drives mass incarceration and what can fix it.

Episode 30: A Conversation with Rodney Spivey-Jones and Max Kenner
In January 2020 Josie Duffy Rice and her producer, Florence Barrau-Adams, traveled to Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon New York to interview Rodney Spivey-Jones and Max Kenner. Max is the founder and Executive Director of the Bard Prison Initiative, and Rodney received his bachelor’s degree from Bard College in 2017 through the Bard Prison Initiative. Rodney has been incarcerated for 17 years, and is currently incarcerated at Fishkill. Both are featured in the PBS documentary series College Behind ...

Episode 29: Schools in Prison
On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice and her co-host Derecka Purnell talk about education in prisons. They'll discuss the impact of having access to education, the dire lack of available programming, and what happened to prison education after the 1994 crime bill.  They're joined by Dyjuan Tatro and Wesley Caines, alumni of the Bard Prison Initiative. The Bard Prison Initiative is a college program offered through Bard College in six New York State prisons. It's also the subject of a crit...

Dyjuan Tatro and Wes Caines’ Book Recommendations
Wesley Caines is the Chief of Staff at the Bronx Defenders and an alum of the Bard Prison Initiative or BPI and Dyjuan Tatro, works at the Bard Prison Initiative as their Government Affairs Officer and he’s also an alumnus of the program.  Wes and Dyjuan joined host Josie Duffy Rice to talk about their reading recommendations. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....


Interviewing the creators of College Behind Bars
In this bonus episode, Josie Duffy Rice and her co-host Derecka Purnell talk to Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, the creators of College Behind Bars. College Behind Bars, which was directed by Novick and produced by Botstein, is a four-episode documentary series about the Bard Prison Initiative, one of the most innovative and challenging prison education programs in the country. Josie and Derecka talk to Sarah and Lynn about the years they spent making the film, what they learned, and the future of prison ed...

Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein's Book Recommendations
Director Lynn Novick and Producer Sarah Botstein, the creators of College Behind Bars, join hosts Josie Duffy Rice and Derecka Purnell to talk about their book recommendations.   For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....

Episode 28: School to Prison Pipeline
What is the school to prison pipeline, and how is it affecting children across America? On this episode of Justice in America, Josie and her co-host, Derecka Purnell, talk to Judith Browne Dianis, the Executive Director of the Advancement Project. They’ll discuss the forms that the school to prison pipeline takes, and the effects it has on poor, black, and brown kids in particular. For more information please visit theappeal.org...


Judith Browne Dianis’ Book Recommendation
Judith Browne Dianis is the Executive Director of the Advancement Project. Judith joined host Josie Duffy Rice to talk about her reading recommendations. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....

Episode 27: Junk Forensic Science
Everyone who has ever watched a crime procedural believes that forensic science is the most reliable way to tell whether someone is guilty or not. But is that true? The reality is that a lot of forensic science is not exactly science at all. On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice and her guest co-host, Zak Cheney Rice, look at faulty forensic science. Radley Balko, opinion journalist at the Washington Post and author of The Cadaver and the Country Dentist, joins. For show notes and more inf...

Radley Balko's Book Recommendation
Radley Balko is an opinion journalist at the Washington Post and author of The Cadaver and the Country Dentist.  Radley joined host Josie Duffy Rice to talk about his reading recommendation. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....


Episode 26: The Privatization of Prisons
On this episode of Justice Podcast, Josie Duffy Rice and guest co-host Donovan Ramsey look at the privatization of America’s criminal legal system. They go beyond just private prisons and look at all the ways the system has privatized corrections, including privatized probation, supervision, healthcare, and communications, and more. To discuss the issue, Bianca Tylek, Executive Director of Worth Rises, joins the show. Bianca Tylek’s Twitter handle: @biancatylek Worth Rises’s Twitter handle: @worthrises For ...

Bianca Tylek's Book Recommendation
Bianca Tylek is the Executive Director of Worth Rises, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industry and ending the exploitation of those it touches. Bianca joined host Josie Duffy Rice to talk about her reading recommendations. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....

Episode 25: Conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill
On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice and her guest co-host, Darnell Moore, talk to Sherrilyn Ifill about policing, civil rights, the criminal justice system, and more. Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization. LDF was founded in 1940 by one of the most important civil rights lawyers in history, Thurgood Marshall, who later became Supreme Court justice. Ifill began her career as a F...


Sherrilyn Ifill's Book Recommendations
Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), the nation’s premier civil rights law organization. Sherrilyn joined hosts Josie Duffy Rice and Darnell Moore to talk about her book recommendations. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....

Episode 24: Death Penalty
On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice, and guest co-host Darnell Moore, focus on the death penalty. Capital punishment remains one of the cruelest aspects of America’s criminal legal system. In America, over 2500 people are currently on death row. Last year, 19 people were executed. Josie and Darnell explore the history of the death penalty, including the short period in the 1970s where it was deemed unconstitutional, and examine its current use in America today. Joining them is guest Stat...

State Attorney Aramis Ayala Book Recommendations
Aramis Ayala is the State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. State Attorney Ayala joined Josie Duffy Rice to talk about her book recommendations. For show notes and more information please check out theappeal.org....


Episode 23: Criminalizing Mothers
One of the most devastating collateral consequences for someone involved in the criminal justice system is the potential destruction of their family – most commonly parents losing custody of kids and children being forced into foster care. On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice and her guest co-host Zak Cheney-Rice look at the relationship between the criminal justice system and family court, and examine how together they can havoc on American families. They are joined by Emma Ketteringham,...

Episode 23: Criminalizing Mothers
One of the most devastating collateral consequences for someone involved in the criminal justice system is the potential destruction of their family – most commonly parents losing custody of kids and children being forced into foster care. On this episode of Justice in America, Josie Duffy Rice and her guest co-host Zak Cheney-Rice look at the relationship between the criminal justice system and family court, and examine how together they can havoc on American families. They are joined by Emma Ketteringham,...

Emma Ketteringham's Book Recommendation
Emma Ketteringham is the Managing Director of the Bronx Defenders Family Defense Practice. Emma joined Josie to talk about her book recommendation. For show notes and more resources, please visit theappeal.org....


Emma Ketteringham's Book Recommendation
Emma Ketteringham is the Managing Director of the Bronx Defenders Family Defense Practice. Emma joined Josie to talk about her book recommendation. For show notes and more resources, please visit theappeal.org....

Episode 22: Probation and Parole
About 2.3 million people are incarcerated in America, but about 6.7 million people are under some form of correctional control. The difference between these two numbers is due to the 4.5 million adults under community supervision, almost twice the number of people who are incarcerated. The two most common types of community supervision? Parole and probation. On this episode of Justice In America, host Josie Duffy Rice and guest host Donovan X. Ramsey explore probation and parole – what they mean, how they w...

LaTonya Tate’s Book Recommendation
LaTonya Tate is the Executive Director and Founder of Alabama Justice Initiative based in Birmingham, Alabama. LaTonya joined Josie to talk about her book recommendation. For show notes and more resources, please visit theappeal.org....


Alicia Garza's Book Recommendation
Alicia Garza is an activist, writer, and organizer, who currently serves as Principal at Black Futures Lab. She is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter.   Alicia joined host Josie Duffy Rice to talk about her book recommendation. For show notes and more resources, please visit theappeal.org....

Episode 21: Police Accountability
As civilians, how do we hold the police responsible for wrongdoing? On the first episode of Season 3, Josie Duffy and co-host Darnell Moore discuss different avenues of police accountability and explain why it’s so hard for the criminal justice system to hold police accountable. They are joined by Alicia Garza, an activist, writer, and organizer, who currently serves as Principal at Black Futures Lab. Alicia is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter and has been a leader in the fight against police brutality an...

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10 Questions Bonus: Zak Cheney Rice
The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color. This season, the ...


10 Questions Bonus: Josie Duffy Rice
The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color. Let’s learn some ...

10 Questions Bonus: Donovan X. Ramsey
The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color. This season, the ...

10 Questions Bonus: Derecka Purnell
The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color. This season, the ...


10 Questions Bonus: Darnell Moore
The third season of Justice in America launches February 26. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hosted by Josie Duffy Rice, president of The Appeal, each episode of Justice in America focuses on a different topic in the criminal justice system. Through conversation, storytelling, media, and interviews, the show sheds light on how our system functions, and the ways in which it disproportionately harms poor people and people of color. This season, the ...

Season 3 Welcome!
Justice in America is a podcast for everyone interested in criminal justice reform— from those new to the system to experts who want to know more. Each episode we cover a new criminal justice issue. We explain how it works and look at its impact on people, particularly poor people and people of color. We’ll also interview activists, practitioners, experts, journalists, organizers, and others, to learn. By the end of the episode, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of what drives mass incarceration ...

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Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition
On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading activists and organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent s...


Episode 19: Restorative Justice
On this episode, we talk about an alternative to the traditional criminal adversarial process: restorative justice. Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by wrongdoing, and values reconciliation, community-involvement, and accountability over punishment and retribution. We discuss the benefits, limitations, and potential of restorative justice. We also talk to Sonya Shah, an associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies and a renowned restorative justice facilitator,...

Episode 18: Whatever happened to Clemency?
The pardon power is one of the strongest presidential powers in our constitution. The president alone has the ability to pardon or commute the sentence of any person convicted of a federal offense. (For those convicted of a state offense, usually it’s the governor who has that power.) But despite the fact that we imprison more people than ever, over the last few decades, presidents have been increasingly less likely to pardon people or commute sentences. On this episode, Clint and Josie discuss pardons and ...

Episode 17: Felony Murder
In prisons across America, people are serving decades-long sentences for crimes they didn’t commit. Some face a life sentence or even the death penalty. Yet there is no hope of exoneration because technically, these people aren’t innocent. They may not be guilty as a matter of fact, but they are guilty as a matter of law. On this episode, we dissect the felony murder doctrine and explore the various ways our system transfers culpability. We also talk to Marlon Peterson, an advocate, writer, and host of the ...


Episode 16: A Conversation with Kim Foxx
Today we are talking to Kim Foxx, the head prosecutor of Cook County in Illinois. Cook County, which includes 135 separate municipalities including Chicago, is the second largest county in America, and has a population bigger than 28 states. State’s Attorney Foxx was elected in 2016. She replaced Anita Alvarez, who had, to put it lightly, a disappointing record on criminal justice reform. Foxx’s election was a major victory for the criminal justice reform movement, and for progressive and racial justice org...

Episode 15: Crime, Justice, and the Media
News stories about crime are found in every local paper or evening newscast nationwide. But stories about our criminal justice system are much less common. So how does the way the media report on crime affect our perception of it? How should local and national media report on our criminal justice system? What obstacles are journalists and outlets facing? And, as a media consumer, what should you be aware of when you’re reading stories about crime and criminal justice? On this episode, we’ll be tackling all ...

Episode 14: Citizens United, Judicial Elections, and Mass Incarceration
How do judges affect mass incarceration, and what role do judicial elections play? Today we’re looking at a topic that doesn’t get a lot of attention - the relationship between judges, corporate money, big business interests, and mass incarceration. We talk to Alicia Bannon, Program Manager at the Brennan Center, about the role of Judicial Elections in mass incarceration, and how fear-mongering is used to incentivize harsh decision making. For links to resources visit theappeal.org...


Episode 13: Juvenile Justice
America has one of the harshest juvenile justice systems on the planet and is the only country in the world that sentences children to life without parole. On this episode, we focus on America’s juvenile justice system — What it looks like, who it’s housing, and how we got here. We also interview Abd’Allah Lateef, the Pennsylvania Coordinator for the Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network a project of The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.  He is also the co-founder of the Redemption Project and c...

Episode 12: The Criminalization of Poverty
On this episode, we explore the countless ways the criminal justice system criminalizes poverty—and homelessness in particular. From what is considered criminal to how it is punished, people that are poor or experiencing homelessness in America are punished exponentially more in our system. We talk to Sara Totonchi, the Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta-based organization that, among other things, fights the criminalization of poverty in Georgia and throughout the South....

Episode 11: Public Defense
On our first episode of season 2, we talk about one of the most important players in the criminal justice system – the public defender. What does it mean to be a public defender in America? Why do we have the right to counsel? And why is it important that all people have access to a zealous advocate, even those who may be guilty of serious crimes? We discuss all of this on this week’s episode. We also talk to Jon Rapping, the founder and President of Gideon’s Promise and a leader in the field of public defe...


Justice In America Season 2 Welcome!
Each show we discuss a topic in the American criminal justice system and try to explain what it is and how it works. Season 2 we’ll be discussing everything from public defense to the death penalty to juvenile justice and more. Featuring interviews with Jon Rapping, Mariame Kaba, Sara Tontonchi, and Marlon Peterson, just to name a few. Hosts: Josie Duffy Rice is a Senior Strategist at the Justice Collaborative and Senior Reporter at The Appeal. Most of her work focuses on the impact that prosecutors have ...

Episode 10: A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates
For our last episode of the season, we are thrilled to have Ta-Nehisi Coates—an author and journalist who has published some of the most important and incisive work of our time, from A Case for Reparations to Between the World and Me. In 2015, Ta-Nehisi published a piece entitled Mass Incarceration and the Black Family, which looked at the history of mass incarceration and the ways it continues to devastate black communities.  We talk to him about race, mass incarceration, his list of suggested reading, an...

Episode 9: How Democrats and Republicans Created Mass Incarceration
There are a few schools of thought regarding the origins of mass incarceration. Some blame Reagan and his” war on drugs,” while others blame Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill. Meanwhile, movies like Ava Duvernay’s 13th have drawn the direct parallels between slavery, Jim Crow, and our racist incarceration system. Each of these theories is correct, at least in part. Yes, it is undoubtedly true that mass incarceration cannot be divorced from prior systems of racial subjugation in America. And yes, Reagan and Cli...


Episode 8: Crimmigration
Historically immigration law and criminal law have functioned separately. But over the past few decades, we’ve seen them slowly merge, as the criminalization of immigrants increased. Now, under Trump, that criminalization is worse than ever, and is resulting in policies like family separation. On this episode, we talk to Alida Garcia, an attorney and Vice President of Advocacy at FWD.us, about America’s shameful trend of criminalizing immigrants.   For more information and resources please visit theappeal.o...

Episode 7: The New American Prosecutor
Over the past few years there’s been a growing movement, led by groups like Color of Change and National People’s Action, whose goal is to elect progressive prosecutors. From Philly to Chicago, Houston to Orlando, St. Louis to Denver, we’ve seen prosecutors concerned with justice and civil liberties beat those focused only on convictions and sentences. But what does it really mean to be a progressive prosecutor? And what comes next for the movement? On this episode, Josie and Clint look at how this movement...

Episode 6 - The Victims of Mass Incarceration
Often, when people talk about the criminal justice system, they talk in big numbers— the millions of people serving time, the billions of dollars mass incarceration costs each year, the hundreds of thousands in jail at any given moment. But talking in big numbers sometimes obscures the fact that we’re discussing real people on this show—human beings, not statistics. On this episode, we discuss who these people really are and how this system affects not only their lives but the lives of their friends and fam...


Episode 5: Excluded from Democracy
For an estimated 6.1 million Americans with felony convictions, their punishment extends all the way to the ballot box. In 48 states, people with felony convictions are barred from voting, either temporarily or permanently. And twelve states, including Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming, restrict at least some people’s voting rights—even after they have served their whole sentence, including supervised release. This episode w...

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Episode 4: A conversation with John Legend
John Legend isn’t just one of the most talented musicians of our time—he’s also a leading activist on criminal justice reform. On this episode, Justice in America talks to Legend, singer, songwriter, actor, producer, founder of #FREEAMERICA.  #FREEAMERICA is a campaign designed to change the national conversation of our country's misguided criminal justice policies. John sat down with Josie in Los Angeles, where they talked about prosecutors, bail, immigration, and more. To learn more about #FREEAMERICA, ch...

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Episode 3: Who Built Mass Incarceration? Prosecutors
Who has had the biggest impact on the growth of our incarceration system? It’s not the judge, the jury, or the legislator. It’s not the police, and it's certainly not the President. It’s someone else—the prosecutor. Prosecutors are getting more attention now than ever, but many people still don’t know what they do.   Prosecutors don’t just play an important role at trial. It is prosecutors who recommend what bail a judge should set, prosecutors who decide whether a person should face criminal charges and wh...

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Episode 2: The 94% - Plea deals
TV courtroom dramas would have you believe that the trial is a major part of the criminal justice process. But most defendants don’t go to trial. Instead, most defendants decide to plead guilty—even when they are innocent. What is a plea deal, exactly, and how does it function? Who negotiates a plea deal and who approves it? What are the benefits to the state? What are the benefits for defendants? And more importantly, how do plea deals reduce protections for individuals ensnared in the criminal justice sys...

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Episode 1: Justice for the Rich, Money Bail
States and cities across the nation are talking about reforming the money bail system. But what does that mean? What exactly is bail? Who does it harm and who does it benefit?  And does bail reform really work? On our first episode, we’re learning all we can about the bail system....

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Welcome to Justice In America
Each show we discuss a topic in the American criminal justice system and try to explain what it is and how it works. Hosts Josie Duffy Rice: A senior strategist with The Justice Collaborative and a Senior Reporter with The Appeal. Josie is a lawyer and writer living in Atlanta. Most of my work focuses on the impact that prosecutors have on communities in America, particularly for poor people and people of color. Clint Smith: A writer, a Ph.D. student living in DC who has spent a lot of time teaching in pris...

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