RJLPP Spotlight


Wellesley Anna DuBois

The opioid epidemic is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous issues facing America today. Opioid overdose accounts for approximately 130 deaths every day. While the majority of the country is focused on preventing patient misuse, hospital-based clinicians who divert controlled substances are largely overlooked. The true scope of the problem is hidden by ineffective oversight of prescribing practitioners, lack of consistent hospital mechanisms to detect diversion, and the skills savvy clinicians have developed to exploit weaknesses in the system to avoid detection. Shifting focus to prevention of clinician diversion is a critical step towards combatting the opioid epidemic. Read more.


Kylie Finley

“‘Thou Shalt Not Snitch’ is the Golden Rule of gang culture.” If you snitch, you die. “Snitching” is defined as “the practice by which criminals give information to the police in exchange for material reward or reduced punishment.” For example, rapper Tekashi69 snitched on his fellow gang members during his in-court testimony for a high- profile racketeering case against members of his former gang, and his life is in such serious danger as a result of that testimony that he is pleading with the courts to transfer him to home confinement, where he will be out of the reach of members of his former gang. Additionally, a 2018 murder case in Detroit charged three gang members who kidnapped and killed a woman who had been “labeled as a snitch.” These gang members forced the woman into the back seat of a car, shot her ten times, and then set her corpse on fire. A former member of the Bloods, Alpha “Swag” Privette, has testified that the “strictest rule” in a gang is “no snitching.” During the investigation of a murder in Minneapolis, investigators discovered a video depicting the strangulation of the victim. The video included audio where the murderer says, while holding the murder weapon around the victim’s neck, “See, see this guy, cop caller, for all you snitches . . . all will suffer the same.” As these examples demonstrate, the label of “snitch carries a price, not just of potential violence, but of ostracism” from the gang. Read more.


Harshita Rathore

Can the fear of a plant justify killing someone and then committing suicide? Kenneth McRae, a lab technician, lived with his wife Jane in Sandwell, England. Kenneth was thinking of selling his home when he noticed the presence of Japanese Knotweed, a weed notoriously difficult to remove, growing over his boundary fence. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to control its spread by cutting it regularly and reporting its presence to the Sandwell Council, JapaneseKnotweed became the focus of Kenneth’s “growing madness.” For Kenneth, the idea of Japanese Knotweed making his unmortgaged property unsaleable by undermining the structure of his property was so unbearable that he committed suicide after killing his wife. According to his suicide note, Kenneth did not want to live his life fighting consequent unwinnable legal battles over the presence of Japanese Knotweed on his property. His note also said, “I believe I was not an evil man until the balance of my mind was disturbed by the fact that there is a patch of Japanese Knotweed which has been growing over our boundary fence on the Rowley Regis Golf Course.” Read more.


Charles White

Rena Lee’s case started and ended with a bond.
“[Lee] was adjudicated indigent and counsel was appointed for her preliminary hearing in the City Court of McComb, bond being set at $50,000. On April 18, 1979, the preliminary hearing was held, Lee was bound over to the October Term of the Pike County Circuit Court, and bond was reduced to $10,000. [Lee] then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking release on her own recognizance. After a short hearing, the county judge refused to order her release on her own recognizance, but reduced her bail to $2,500, which [Lee] was still unable to post. From that order, Rena Lee appealed.”

In addressing the issue on appeal, the Supreme Court of Mississippi noted that courts have applied two conflicting approaches regarding the presumption favoring personal recognizance wherein some do not express any preference based on the assumption that the risk of incarceration solely due to poverty exists with any approach. Other courts, however, express a preference for personal recognizance release based on poverty concerns unique to indigent defendants. This essay argues against approaches that fail to express a presumption against money bail and in favor of approaches that express a preference for personal recognizance release. Read more.