The Marshall Project

The Marshall Project The Marshall Project is a nonprofit news organization covering America’s criminal justice system.

Why The "Marshall" Project? Thurgood Marshall is an American hero. His work as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, including the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. civil rights movement. As the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he was a persuasive advocate for a living and breathing Constitution that sees beyond the prejudices of revolutionary America. If Marshall were alive, I have no doubt that he would place criminal justice reform high among the urgent priorities of today’s civil rights movement, and that his would be a powerful voice for change. It is for these reasons that I chose to name The Marshall Project in his honor. — Neil Barsky, founder of The Marshall Project

Mission: The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We achieve this through award-winning journalism, partnerships with other news outlets and public forums. In all of our work we strive to educate and enlarge the audience of people who care about the state of criminal justice.

Here's a look at Dave Dahl's journey from incarceration to the foundation of Dave's Killer Bread.
07/07/2019
Dave's Killer Bread: Dave Dahl

Here's a look at Dave Dahl's journey from incarceration to the foundation of Dave's Killer Bread.

Dave Dahl's entrepreneurial journey began in prison. In 1987, he was addicted to drugs and incarcerated for home burglary. For 15 years he bounced from one sentence to the next. But in 2001, Dave finally returned to his family bakery where he was inspired to make bread – organic, nutty, and slight...

"I have all these barriers—barrier after barrier after barrier—a criminal history, my home address is a halfway hous...
07/07/2019
Another Hurdle For Former Inmates: Their Teeth

"I have all these barriers—barrier after barrier after barrier—a criminal history, my home address is a halfway house, and I don’t have any money to buy clothing so that I can present myself professionally. And then also my teeth are rotting."

For many recently-released prisoners, severe dental issues are just one more barrier to restarting their lives.

Here are just a few of the many ways that women are forced to adapt to poor care and conditions in prison.
07/07/2019
What Is Prison Like for Women and Girls?

Here are just a few of the many ways that women are forced to adapt to poor care and conditions in prison.

The Marshall Project teams up with Teen Vogue to listen.

A juror reflects on how her experiences with a murder trial illuminated the injustices of the system: "Why do we care so...
07/06/2019
Jury Duty Changed My Life Forever

A juror reflects on how her experiences with a murder trial illuminated the injustices of the system: "Why do we care so little about people being sent to prison for their entire human lives, and what happens to them?"

“I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice. How did this happen?”

More than 175,000 people have been sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons in the last 8 years due to sweepin...
07/06/2019
The Hardest Time He Served Wasn’t in Prison

More than 175,000 people have been sentenced to county jails instead of state prisons in the last 8 years due to sweeping changes to California's justice system.

Long jail sentences draw complaints from inmates and guards.

Before Charles Ponzi, there was Sarah Howe.Longreads has the story of Howe's scam — and the way she was treated after ...
07/05/2019
The No. 1 Ladies’ Defrauding Agency

Before Charles Ponzi, there was Sarah Howe.

Longreads has the story of Howe's scam — and the way she was treated after getting caught: "In Victorian-era Boston, the idea that a woman criminal could be an 'ordinary person' was impossible."

What a 19th-century scammer can teach us about women, lying, and economic boom-and-bust cycles

"A climate of fear produces powerful incentives for preemptive killing. Those who are fearful are dangerous, and those w...
07/05/2019
How Fear Contributes to Cops' Use of Deadly Force

"A climate of fear produces powerful incentives for preemptive killing. Those who are fearful are dangerous, and those who are seen as dangerous have reason to be afraid."

Police employ lethal violence in response to perceived threats at vastly different rates across the country. Racial bias is just one factor.

Causey Davis served his time for a 2006 conviction. But that didn't stop him from being re-arrested and put in jail in 2...
07/05/2019
They’re Haunted by ‘Ghost Warrants’ Years After Their Arrests

Causey Davis served his time for a 2006 conviction. But that didn't stop him from being re-arrested and put in jail in 2014, 2015 and 2017 on the same old warrant.

Here's a look at how "ghost warrants" can follow people for years.

Outdated or inaccurate charges often linger on people’s records and lead to devastating new stints in jail.

Here's a look at the history of criminalizing kids making money by washing windshields: "The symptoms of racial and econ...
07/05/2019
Plight of the Squeegee Kids | Kaila Philo

Here's a look at the history of criminalizing kids making money by washing windshields: "The symptoms of racial and economic inequality in many of our largest cities were recast as the source of urban degradation and even chaos."

City Hall too often focuses their anti-squeegee efforts on controlling children, when those children are plainly the victims of their city’s policies.

A new report from California's Office of the Inspector General found that prison staff routinely used force unnecessaril...
07/05/2019
Report: California Prison Guards Broke Use of Force Rules in Nearly Half of 2018 Incidents

A new report from California's Office of the Inspector General found that prison staff routinely used force unnecessarily and in violation of department policy.

The review found prison staff also failed to adequately investigate by 'completing untimely interviews, not recording inmate injuries, completing interviews in a non-confidential setting, or conducting interviews even though they were involved in the incident.'

“I became domestic violence advocate and counselor… I take the same time that someone at some point took to help me....
07/04/2019
Alina Diaz | We Are Witnesses: Becoming An American

“I became domestic violence advocate and counselor… I take the same time that someone at some point took to help me. That’s what makes America great.”

A domestic abuse survivor tells the story of her fraught journey from Colombia to the U.S. — and the people who helped her.

Just in time for the 4th, Robin Washington makes the argument that protesting law enforcement is an American tradition t...
07/04/2019
Protesting Law Enforcement Is as Old as America Itself

Just in time for the 4th, Robin Washington makes the argument that protesting law enforcement is an American tradition that's older than… America.

Had British authorities and their soldiers exercised de-escalation tactics, would the United States exist today?

“I'm a firm believer, still to this day and to this moment, of the American way. I hope I'm not wrong that despite any...
07/04/2019
Zaid Nagi | We Are Witnesses: Becoming An American

“I'm a firm believer, still to this day and to this moment, of the American way. I hope I'm not wrong that despite anything at the end of it, at the end of it, America will get it right.”

A Yemeni-American immigrant and organizer describes the day thousands of people united to protest the travel ban.

"I have worked with asylum-seekers for 10 years. I have never seen people as scared, who are just viscerally terrified w...
07/03/2019
Fear, Confusion And Separation As Trump Administration Sends Migrants Back To Mexico

"I have worked with asylum-seekers for 10 years. I have never seen people as scared, who are just viscerally terrified while they're begging me, 'Please don't let me get sent back. Please don't let me get sent back.' "

The "Remain in Mexico" program is a key part of the Trump administration's plan to turn back a crush of migrants at the southern border, and it's a historic shift in how the asylum system works.

John "Peanut" Phillips has been behind bars since 1952. He can’t advocate for himself, in court or in prison. And he l...
07/03/2019
At Home Behind Bars

John "Peanut" Phillips has been behind bars since 1952. He can’t advocate for himself, in court or in prison. And he lost his desire to live outside of razor-wire fences decades ago.

After 66 years in prison, North Carolina’s longest-serving inmate has lost the desire to leave.

Going out of town? Here are some of the best criminal justice reads to pack in your bag.
07/03/2019
Bookshelf

Going out of town? Here are some of the best criminal justice reads to pack in your bag.

Books about criminal justice, curated by The Marshall Project staff.

"The argument over whether or not these facilities amount to concentration camps is almost beside the point. The semanti...
07/03/2019
A Crime by Any Name

"The argument over whether or not these facilities amount to concentration camps is almost beside the point. The semantic dispute obscures the true conflict."

The Trump administration’s commitment to deterring immigration through cruelty has made horrifying conditions in detention facilities inevitable.

After a training run while wearing a 75-pound "fight suit" to protect him from dog attacks, Sean Donnelly collapsed. He ...
07/02/2019
Death of Dog Trainer Highlights Strenuous Heat and Working Conditions Inside Texas Prisons

After a training run while wearing a 75-pound "fight suit" to protect him from dog attacks, Sean Donnelly collapsed. He arrived at the hospital with an internal body temperature of 106 degrees. He died soon after.

Seth Donnelly was one of the many inmates Texas prison officials use as prey for dog hunts. He died from heatstroke after collapsing on the job in Abilene.

ESPN looks at the support Megan Rapinoe and her brother Brian have given each other over the years — as she ascended t...
07/02/2019
Megan Rapinoe's greatest heartbreak, and hope

ESPN looks at the support Megan Rapinoe and her brother Brian have given each other over the years — as she ascended to soccer stardom and he encountered addiction and incarceration.

Megan Rapinoe once worshipped her brother Brian, until a drug addiction upended his life. He now looks to her influence to heal and move forward.

Genetic genealogy has redefined the cutting edge of forensic science. But until a trial this month in the 1987 murder of...
07/02/2019
Genealogy Sites Have Helped Identify Suspects. Now They’ve Helped Convict One.

Genetic genealogy has redefined the cutting edge of forensic science. But until a trial this month in the 1987 murder of a young Canadian couple, it had never been tested in court.

A new forensic technique sailed through its first test in court, leading to a guilty verdict. But beyond the courtroom, a battle over privacy is intensifying.

"It broke me. Being sent to jail and having him taken away from me pushed me into my addiction harder than I ever would ...
07/01/2019
U.S. jail populations drop but not for women

"It broke me. Being sent to jail and having him taken away from me pushed me into my addiction harder than I ever would have thought."

While America’s jail population may be finally decreasing after decades of massive growth, that doesn't apply to women. In fact, the proportion of women spending time in jail is going up. Special correspondent David Tereshchuk explores some of the causes and potential remedies.

Beth Schwartzapfel's latest for TMP looks at a new study that examines how risk assessment tools can treat people of col...
07/01/2019
Can Racist Algorithms Be Fixed?

Beth Schwartzapfel's latest for TMP looks at a new study that examines how risk assessment tools can treat people of color more harshly.

A new study adds to the debate over racial bias in risk assessment tools widely used in courtrooms.

In a prison where more than a third of guard jobs were vacant and the annual turnover rate was close to 90%, officials t...
06/30/2019
Corporate Confession: Gangs Ran This Private Prison

In a prison where more than a third of guard jobs were vacant and the annual turnover rate was close to 90%, officials turned to a different kind of enforcement: gangs.

What happened in Mississippi when no one wanted dangerous, low-paying guard jobs.

Layleen Polanco spent the last nine days of her life in solitary confinement at Rikers Island.
06/29/2019
Layleen Polanco’s Death Haunts a Prideful Celebration

Layleen Polanco spent the last nine days of her life in solitary confinement at Rikers Island.

Just weeks before the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, Polanco, a transgender woman, died in a solitary confinement cell at Riker’s.

"We need to end the use of money bail and pre-trial detention in major cities and towns across the country, a practice t...
06/28/2019
Opinion | Stonewall Hasn’t Ended

"We need to end the use of money bail and pre-trial detention in major cities and towns across the country, a practice that has a devastating impact on black transgender women."

The police still abuse L.G.B.T.Q. New Yorkers. And we still fight back.

"To my knowledge, no corporate sponsor of Pride has demanded that the New York City Department of Corrections be held ac...
06/28/2019
Pride Has Betrayed Us

"To my knowledge, no corporate sponsor of Pride has demanded that the New York City Department of Corrections be held accountable for its role in Polanco’s death, or the federal prison system at large for its participation in anti-Black trans violence across the U.S."

Trans women of color were being murdered before the gay rights movement, and are still being murdered today. Pride has never paid attention.

Teaira Shorter wanted to start her life as an adult, but needed to clear arrest warrants from fines incurred in high sch...
06/28/2019
19 years old, in jail and begging to go to the hospital

Teaira Shorter wanted to start her life as an adult, but needed to clear arrest warrants from fines incurred in high school. She turned herself in for a short jail stint—then ended up with a life-threatening infection.

"I was trying to be a responsible young adult and they just smacked me in the face."

Nine days after entering jail, Teaira Shorter left in an ambulance with a life-threatening infection. She wonders why no one helped her get to a hospital sooner.

"I first saw the image on my Twitter timeline, unexpectedly and without warning, on Tuesday evening. It made me cry. As ...
06/27/2019
The Image America Shouldn’t Need

"I first saw the image on my Twitter timeline, unexpectedly and without warning, on Tuesday evening. It made me cry. As a writer, I have covered immigration on and off for ten years. [...] The photos people need to see are of Óscar and Valeria together, alive, to remind them they were people, not bodies."

There is a common belief that immigration reporting humanizes immigrants or inspires empathy. But I’m beginning to wonder if we’re simply a country desensitized to these horrors, incapable of seeing these “others” as human. My perspective, as an immigration reporter, is that if you haven’t...

"This much can be said: the era of NRA supremacy is over."
06/27/2019
The Cold, Dead Hand of the NRA

"This much can be said: the era of NRA supremacy is over."

The NRA may repair its finances—dues did rebound in 2018, though the recent scandal seems likely to reverse that trend. The organization may also effect a transition to a new leadership with cleaner hands. It may even survive relatively unscathed the inquisition of the New York attorney general. B...

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