Author

Amanda Hernández

Amanda Hernández

Amanda Hernández is a staff writer for Stateline. She has reported for both national and local outlets, including ABC News, USA Today and NBC4 Washington.

A closeup of a man's wrists in handcuffs with smoke in the foreground

High fees, long waits cast shadow over new criminal expungement laws

By: - November 28, 2023

More states are making it easier for residents to clear or seal their criminal records. The effort has drawn bipartisan support, as lawmakers across the political spectrum say it will help people find jobs and housing, in turn boosting local economies and reducing reliance on social services. “Folks that get out of jail or prison […]

A door displays a sign for bail bond services in Los Angeles.

Cash bail policies are under fresh scrutiny

By: - November 13, 2023

States can’t figure out what to do about cash bail. The system — in which an arrested suspect pays cash to avoid sitting in jail until their court date and gets the money back when they appear — is deeply entrenched in the nation’s history as a way to ensure defendants return to face justice. […]

Richmond Virginia police car

Politicians love to cite crime data. It’s often wrong.

By: - October 27, 2023

When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his presidential campaign in May, he proudly told the nation that Florida’s crime rate in 2021 had reached a 50-year low. But really, DeSantis couldn’t say for sure. That’s because fewer than 1 in 10 law enforcement agencies in his state had reported their crime statistics to the […]

Max Gruver and his mother, Rae Ann Gruver, embrace.

It’s hazing season on college campuses. State safeguards are uneven.

By: - September 30, 2023

Max Gruver spent the early morning hours of Sept. 14, 2017, heavily intoxicated and passed out on a couch inside the Phi Delta Theta chapter house at Louisiana State University. He had been forced to repeatedly chug 190-proof Diesel liquor in a hazing ritual called “Bible Study,” during which pledges are quizzed on fraternity facts. […]

In this April 2, 2015, file photo, forensic analyst India Henry removes a pair of underwear from an evidence bag for testing in a sexual assault case in the biology lab at the Houston Forensic Science Center in Houston.

Sexual assault survivors can now track their rape kits in most states

By: - September 8, 2023

It can take hours for a sexual assault victim to undergo the multiple swabs, hair samples, blood and urine collections, and other invasive procedures of a sexual assault examination. And then it can take months, sometimes years, for investigators to process that evidence kit. But now, responding to demands from survivors and their advocates, more […]

red and blue flashing lights atop a police car

Cities are embracing teen curfews, though they might not curb crime

By: - August 29, 2023

In response to growing public concern over crime, cities and counties throughout the United States are returning to a familiar tool: curfews for young people. Proponents argue curfews curb crime and protect youth by keeping them off the streets. But research suggests curfews are ineffective, and some juvenile justice advocates and experts warn of unintended […]

prison cells

Stifling prison heat used to be just a Southern problem. Not anymore.

By: - August 14, 2023

While sweltering heat in prisons without air conditioning has long been an issue in the South, extreme heat waves worsened by climate change are expanding the problem into Northern states. In recent years, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin have seen extreme heat in prisons. Many of these states lack the necessary infrastructure for […]

red and blue flashing lights atop a police car

After George Floyd’s murder, more states require release of police disciplinary records

By: - August 7, 2023

Faced with growing calls for the public release of police disciplinary records, lawmakers in almost every state have grappled with how to balance revealing law enforcement misdeeds and protecting officers’ privacy and safety. Fueled by public outrage over the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and other high-profile incidents of police […]

Customers queue outside of Chesapeake Apothecary in White Plains, Maryland

As more states legalize pot, their uneven safety rules can pose a risk

By: - July 8, 2023

Amid the growing acceptance and legalization of cannabis use across the country, a concerning reality has emerged: The state-by-state patchwork of safety regulations can leave marijuana consumers wandering through a haze of uncertainty, exposing them to potential risks. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal — period. So, it’s up to individual states to determine their […]