Samantha Melamed writes about criminal and social justice.

Latest Stories

Can radical listening transform prison culture? One Pennsylvania institution is finding out.

Just Listening brings the modest act of listening — careful, attentive, empathetic listening — to people experiencing hunger, homelessness or other hardships.

Philadelphia judge finds ‘outrageous government conduct’ in cop’s treatment of arrested man, dismissing charges

At least five people have filed complaints with Philadelphia Police claiming that Sgt. Jason Reid punched them in the face or head — but none of the complaints was sustained. This time he was caught on video — and a judge threw out the case.

Philadelphia police are searching more cars for marijuana — but finding less of it, critics say

“Marijuana seems like an easy way to get [access] to a car,” said assistant defender Michael Mellon. “There’s no way to prove ... that they didn’t smell it. It becomes a crutch to justify anything.”

Special Report

‘I don’t feel free’: This is life on probation for tens of thousands across Pennsylvania

Probation is meant to keep people out of jail. But intense monitoring leaves tens of thousands across the state at risk of incarceration.

Special Report

The Probation Trap: Lenient sentences in Pennsylvania often have harsh consequences

Probation is meant to rehabilitate. But it can make people more desperate, and puts many in constant fear of incarceration.

Special Report

'I'm the worst judge to run from. I take it very seriously': Pa. judges impose wildly different versions of justice

Judges have wide discretion to detain people for violations, impose strict conditions, and even send people to state prison.

Special Report

'I went to state prison for missing two probation appointments'

Officials say locking people up is sometimes the only way to keep them from overdosing. But it’s a cycle that can be hard to break.

Pennsylvania law has 5 times more crimes than in the ’70s. Is that one reason Pa. has 5 times more prisoners?

“Cruelty to animals” is already a crime. So is it necessary to tack on “cruelty to cow to enhance appearance of udder?”

Can Sixers partner Michael Rubin and Meek Mill’s legal team help another Philly man get free of probation?

To 76ers owner Michael Rubin, who spent the last couple of years advocating for Meek Mill, an Inquirer story about a man named Maurice Hudson incarcerated for probation violations sounded all too familiar.

Convincing Pennsylvania prison lifers to apply for clemency is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s toughest campaign yet

"A catastrophic bottleneck has doomed hundreds and hundreds of men and women to die in prison," Fetterman told about 180 lifers at SCI Dallas. "But we have the best opportunity in 40 years to get people out.”