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Legal System

The Legal System Channel features information related to how society deals with crime, criminals and law enforcement. Learn more about how governments operate their legal systems.

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Why Are Mandatory Minimum Sentences Popular Again?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to reinstate mandatory minimum prison sentences. But do they really deter future criminals, or do they proportionately affect certain groups instead?

Study Pinpoints Best Strategy to Address Past Crimes in a Job Interview

A new study examines how former offenders should — and should not — speak about a history of incarceration.

Can You Sue Over 'Third-hand Smoke' Exposure?

Research shows that nicotine residue lingering in furniture and carpets may be hazardous to kids. Could that mean legal action for unsuspecting homeowners and tenants?

Can the Government Access Data on Electronic Devices in Checked Luggage?

The TSA can open your checked bags at an airport. But how deep can they dig into electronic devices they find inside?

How One Missing Oxford Comma Changed an Entire Legal Decision

The divisive serial comma finally got its day in court—it was glorious.

Who's in Charge of Investigating Deaths in Antarctica?

Antarctica belongs to no one nation. So what happens in the event of a crime?

10 Press Exposés That Made a Difference

While the press often gets a beating from the public and politicians, journalists have brought to national attention lots of issues that would otherwise remain hidden.

How Solitary Confinement Works

The U.S. has thousands of prisoners in solitary confinement. But experts are now saying it does more harm than good.

Is it Ever Legal to Punch Someone in the Face? Oh Yeah

Guy walks into a bar looking for a fight. When is it legal and illegal to clock him?

The Real Reason Website and App Terms of Service Are So Confusing

Companies are actually hoping you won't read these 8,000-word documents before you click "agree." But why?

Gun Violence Spreads Through Social Networks Like an Epidemic, Study Shows

According to new research, shootings pass from person to person like a contagious disease.

How Good Samaritan Laws Work

Good Samaritan laws are intended to protect you from a lawsuit if you help strangers during an emergency. But they may not protect you in every situation.

A Fire Hose May Stop a Riot. A Water Cannon Will

Should you ever find yourself in the middle of a protest, you're going to want to avoid being targeted by one of these 'less-lethal' weapons.

10 of the World's Most Prolific Serial Killers

Some serial killers have murdered more than 100 people. Who are these people, and why did they do it?

Saudi Women Petition Against Male Guardianship

Thousands of Saudi women signed a petition that seeks the end of the country's male guardianship system. How does that system affect Saudi women now?

Ramen Replacing Smokes as Preferred Prison Currency?

Inmates have been using cigarettes as currency for more than a century in U.S. prisons. So what's behind the switch to ramen cups at one prison?

Breaking the Law to Enforce It: Cops and the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled in a big Fourth Amendment case that under certain circumstances, evidence found during an illegal stop could be used in legal proceedings.

Identifying Culprits via Body Odor Could Help Solve Crimes

The nose knows, apparently. A new study suggests smells associated with emotional events like a crime could be just as reliable as eyewitness accounts. So, nosewitnesses?

Terrorists Could Use Virtual Reality to Prepare for Attacks

A former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security explains how terrorists could use virtual reality to train for strikes.

States Scramble to Find Lethal Injection Drugs

With more drug companies refusing to allow their drugs to be used in executions, states have turned to riskier pharmaceuticals.

The (White) Doctor Will See You Now: Why Racist Hospital Patients Often Win

Bigoted requests aren't as rare as you might think in hospitals. It's also not rare for hospitals to accommodate such requests. Why?

Merrick Garland Is a Legal Mystery

After nearly two decades as a judge, the Supreme Court nominee's record offers few clues as to where he stands on many social issues.

Religious Freedom Acts Born Out of ... Peyote

It's not quite what you'd expect, is it?

10 Things That Aren't Free Speech

Free speech is one of America's most fiercely guarded freedoms, but that doesn't mean that citizens can say whatever they like with no threat of punishment. In several cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of limitations.

California Released Thousands of Prisoners Early — Guess How That Turned Out

From 2011 to 2013, California released 33,000 prisoners early. One study measures the impact non-violent prisoner "realignment" has had on crimes rates in the state.

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