California has a large prison population, and a number of those inmates are likely victims of wrongful convictions. The National Registry of Exonerations has been tracking people released for wrongful convictions since 1989. In 2018, the registry recorded the exoneration and release of 151 people nationwide. They had collectively served 1,639 years for crimes that they did not commit.
Those who are charged with a crime in California or any other state are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, this doesn't mean that an individual will avoid going to jail prior to the resolution of his or her case. In some cases, this is because a defendant is not allowed to post bail. In others, it is because a defendant does not have the financial resources to post bail after it is set.
Some California residents might be aware of a case in Mississippi in which a man has been on trial six times for the same alleged murder. The case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court because the prosecutor has been accused of deliberately keeping African-Americans off the jury.
Being arrested can have a major impact on the rest of a person's life. According to a study released by the RAND Corporation, people arrested in California and across the country see ongoing effects to their wages, relationships and other future outcomes after an initial arrest. For example, when people are arrested one time, they are around 3.5 percent less likely to marry later. While this may seem relatively small, the drop continues to grow with each subsequent arrest.
Mass incarceration in California and nationwide has placed millions of people behind bars. Criminal justice activists, however, have started to reverse the trend of locking people up. In 2008, mass incarceration reached its height with 1,000 people held in corrections per 100,000 adults. Now the rate has fallen to 830 inmates per 100,000. The decriminalization of minor offenses and expansion of alternatives to jail for people convicted of low-level offenses have contributed to this drop in incarceration rates.
A California district court judge has ruled that U.S. cops can't force people to unlock their cellphones using their fingers or faces. The case in question involved an individual who was trying to extort another by threatening to play an embarrassing video on Facebook. Authorities were planning to raid a property and wanted permission to unlock any devices that used facial recognition or similar technology.
As many as 2,600 federal prisoners in California and around the country incarcerated for selling or distributing crack cocaine could be released if the First Step Act withstands bipartisan opposition in Congress. The president has said that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk, but that outcome is far from assured. Democrats have criticized the bill for not going far enough to reform the criminal justice system while many Republicans have voiced concerns about releasing people they view as dangerous criminals back into society.
A California man has been arrested for allegedly attempting to kidnap a school bus. The 47-year-old man got onto a bus full of schoolchildren when it was stopped to allow a few of the elementary school students on board to use the bathroom. He has since been charged with attempted carjacking and kidnapping. The incident occurred in the evening when the bus was coming back from a field trip.