Police stand guard as protesters gather, Aug. 19, 2015, in St. Louis after a black 18-year-old fleeing from officers serving a search warrant was fatally shot after police say he pointed a gun at them. 
Photo by Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/AP

2015: The year in criminal justice

From Eric Holder’s resignation to the caught-on-tape death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, this is the year in criminal justice.

  1. When American police officers kill, and local courts fail to deliver the justice families want, they often turn to the U.S. Department of Justice for help. But even there, justice can be elusive. MSNBC’s Trymaine Lee spoke to several such families, and here’s what they had to say.

  2. As Washington remains in a seemingly perpetual state of partisan gridlock, one issue has found a bipartisan sweet spot, drawing an unlikely coalition of allies. Read MSNBC’s report on what happens when American politicians reach across party lines to tackle the country’s mass incarceration problem.

  3. President Obama has long been criticized for his stingy use of his pardon and commutation power. But in March, he commuted the sentences of 22 people serving time in federal prison, doubling the total number of people this president has commuted since taking office in 2008.* See their names, states, and crimes for which they were imprisoned here.

  4. When former Attorney General Eric Holder assumed office in 2009, he did so as part of the historic election of Obama as the nation’s first African-American president. But Holder was also making history in his own right as the first black U.S. attorney general. Holder gave MSNBC an exit interview in March in which he discussed his legacy, race and life after the Obama administration. Read the whole thing here.

  5. By now, millions of people have witnessed the violent end of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s brief, troubled life. But for more than 400 days, the city of Chicago put up a wall of silence around McDonald’s killing. What’s become clear is how the early police narrative contradicts what viewers have since seen with their own eyes. It’s precisely why so many people, particularly in black and beleaguered communities, do not trust the police. McDonald’s story — along with the tragic deaths of so many like him — beg the question: When cops kill, are murder charges enough?

*Obama commuted the sentences of another 95 prisoners just this month.