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The Appeal


The Appeal is a podcast, hosted by Adam Johnson, on criminal justice reform, abolition and everything in between. Each week we will feature fascinating interviews with those covering, working in, and most affected by the American criminal system; from lawyers to activists to reporters to theRead more

Popular episodes

Episode 65: The Cruel Rise of 'Drug Induced Homicide' Prosecutions

Feb 27 • 30:25

In 2014, then-23 year-old Morgan Godvin sold a small amount of heroin to her friend and fellow drug user Justin DeLong who subsequently overdosed and died. Morgan was charged by the federal government for “drug delivery resulting in death” and served five years in prison––despite Justin’s family pleading for leniency. Now out of prison and majoring in community health educ...

Episode 64: Documenting the Death Penalty

Feb 13 • 34:26

Despite hundreds of people being put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, surprisingly little data exists on who exactly is killed by the government. Two reporters at The Intercept, Jordan Smith and Liliana Segura, have spent the last three years working on filling the gap in knowledge––collecting and assembling data o...

Episode 62: Police Abuse In American Schools

Feb 6 • 14:36

In recent years, the number of police in American schools has skyrocketed as social services have been cut. As of 2016, 1.7 million students are in schools with police officers but no counselors, 3 million students are in schools with officers but no nurses, and 10 million students are in schools with police but no social workers. This invariably has led to abuse and undue...

Episode 62: Locking Up Women For Killing Their Rapists

Jan 30 • 24:05

In 2018, Brittany Smith was assaulted and raped by a man in her Alabama home. Later that night, when the same man attacked both her and her brother, Smith shot and killed him in what she calls self-defense. Now she’s on trial for murder and her case tells us a lot about how our criminal legal system treats gendered violence. Today we are joined by Appeal writer Lauren Gill...

Appeal Podcast: Reexamining the Science of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Jan 23 • 17:24

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) bas been the subject of countless news specials, TV drama plots, and shocking tabloid headlines––horrific tales of child abuse, quickly met with the firm justice of the state. But in recent years, medical and legal experts have begun pushing back against the conventional wisdom surrounding SBS, questioning its fundamental scientific basis. Today ...

Episode 60: Substandard Healthcare in American Prisons

Jan 16 • 19:17

The only people in the United States the government is required by law to provide healthcare for are the incarcerated. But what constitutes a baseline standard of care is very much in doubt and many human rights activists and legal experts argue the healthcare, namely in states like Illinois and Louisiana, is far below any moral or constitutional standard. Today Type Inves...

Episode 59: The Regressive Pseudoscience of Our "War on Opioid Addiction"

Dec 12 • 38:18

On our last episode of the year we're doing something a little different: Joining us to co-host this week is Appeal contributor Zach Siegel, who’s a journalism fellow at Northeastern University Law School’s Health in Justice Action Lab, to discuss false narratives around drug addiction and how prisons are increasingly employing puritanical pseudoscience in the so-called "W...

Episode 58: The Cruel Roadblocks to Getting Innocent People Out of Prison

Dec 5 • 14:29

Last month, 106 legal scholars signed a brief supporting St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner's efforts to get a new trial for Lamar Johnson, a man convicted of murder in 1995 for a crime many––including the prosecutor's office that convicted him––say he couldn't have possibly committed. The initial trial, which involved paid witnesses who later recanted and jail house snitche...

Episode 57: Imagining a Post-Incarceration World

Nov 21 • 23:54

To those tasked with radically reimagining the U.S. legal system and moving it away from the current carceral, hyper-punitive model, the logical question arises: What do you replace it with? It’s a fair question and one activists and thinkers have been struggling with for decades. One such person, our guest Danielle Sered of Common Justice, has been implementing alternativ...

Episode 56: States Turn To Nitrogen Gas For Executions, Despite Doctors' Concerns

Nov 14 • 18:24

Facing legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, Oklahoma was the first state to announce a plan to use nitrogen to execute prisoners on death row. Mississippi and Alabama soon followed, though none of the states has tried it yet. Critics say the science behind using nitrogen to kill people is spotty at best, and there's no way to know if it will be a...

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