Mass Incarceration in Allegheny County

The term “mass incarceration” was identified by Michelle Alexander in her groundbreaking 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. According to Alexander, there are more African-Americans under the control or supervision of the criminal justice system than were enslaved a decade before the Civil War began. She makes the compelling argument that:

What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow has less to do with the basic structure of our society than the language that we use to justify it… Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label…

Yesterday I provided testimony to the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee about ending cash bail in Pennsylvania. This was at the request of State Representative Summer Lee, who has sponsored legislation to end cash bail in Pennsylvania. Other speakers included Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, Allegheny County Councilwoman At-Large Bethany Hallam, a representative from the ACLU of PA, and persons who have been negatively impacted by the practice of imposing cash bail amounts that are inconsistent with ability-to-pay. Below is a link to YouTube video of the Hearing/Panel, and my written statement to the Committee (from (1:07:50–1:13:59).

Thank you…

“It is only when the community has confidence in the integrity and capacity of the judiciary that the community is governed by the rule of law.”

- Commentary on the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2007.

It is 8:46 p.m.

Today, I am joining judges and court systems throughout the United States that have issued statements in response to the eight minutes and forty six seconds that forced our nation to reckon with four hundred years of systemic racial inequality and oppression.

The death of George Floyd sparked an uprising of historic proportions that reflects a deep lack of public…

Comment to Proposed Amendment of Pa.Rs.Crim.P. 542, 543 and 1003

This Comment is provided in response to the Committee’s proposed amendment of Rules 542, 543 and 1003 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. It focuses on the Committee’s proposition that there is “no material difference between the level of evidence that constitutes a prima facie case and that constitutes probable cause.” This Comment expresses concern regarding this proposition, because Pennsylvania law clearly establishes substantive distinctions between prima facie and probable cause standards of proof. …

RIP Mac Miller, my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans all over the world. Pittsburgh as a whole and our arts community in particular lost a real one today.

Honestly, last year’s loss of beloved Pittsburgh artist Danny Montano was one of the first things that came to mind when I learned of Mac’s passing.

The 31st Magisterial District is home to the Penn Avenue Arts District, one of the largest concentrations of galleries, event spaces and artists in our region. Enjoying art is a daily ritual here. But for most it’s probably subconscious.

I think we really…

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States (popularly and awesomely referred to these days as the “Notorious RBG”) recently remarked that the independent judiciary is “our nation’s hallmark and pride.”

Her Honor wisely notes that judges who find themselves under political attack depend on others to “explain the importance of an independent judiciary,” and that criticism across branches of government is helpful when it is “constructive, not destructive.”

The importance of these principles is perhaps most evident in the area of criminal justice. Study after study shows that the majority of political attack ads against…

The headline read like this: “Transgender woman allegedly raped by cellmate says she requested single cell.”

And the article mentioned this: “District Judge Mik Pappas revoked Booth’s bond and upheld all of his charges… [and] changed the victim’s bond to non-monetary to allow her release from the jail Tuesday morning.”

But there’s something that the article failed to mention, which leaves me somewhat compelled to offer a few thoughts.*

Something that many of us already know, or that we hopefully are trying hard to figure out, is that using correct pronouns is important.

It shows “respect for the…

Today’s Post-Gazette article is fair overall. However, there is one issue that I would like to discuss: the dilemma of crafting appropriate bond conditions for a defendant who may be a flight risk, but who does not have the means to pay a sufficient surety in the form of cash.

The problems with cash bail are legion but essentially, misuse or over reliance on cash bail is a major contributor to mass incarceration, enriches private interests at the expense of taxpayers (who bear the burden of unnecessary incarceration costs), offends civil liberties when amounting to the denial of bail…

Response to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article of January 27, 2018

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Constituents,

It recently was brought to my attention that I was featured on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this past Saturday. While I have enjoyed the distinct pleasure of appearing in these hallowed pages on several occasions in the past, the honor of Saturday’s article truly was unique. Never before have I been so obliged.

At the same time, I must respectfully request that the Post-Gazette review transcripts to determine whether I actually attempted to sequester a lead investigator, and whether I actually threatened…

I am really excited to share these questions and responses with the community! There are a lot of misconceptions out there about DSA, but I found these questions, as well as the members of Pittsburgh DSA, to be highly informed and full of positive energy.

Make no mistake, these were by no means cookie-cutter questions. They were quite challenging. Luckily I love a challenge, and I had a great time preparing my answers.

You will notice a number of legal citations throughout. I take this approach for two reasons. First, some of the questions pertain to issues that some may…

Mik Pappas

Elected, Independent, District Judge in Pittsburgh, PA. Access to justice is essential to a vibrant and equitable democracy. he/him/his

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