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Episode 45: Just Mercy (6.17.2016)
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As a law student, Bryan Stevenson was sent to a maximum security prison to meet a man on death row. The man told Stevenson he’d never met an African-American lawyer, and the two of them talked for hours. It was a day that changed Stevenson’s life. He’s spent the last 30 years working to get people off of death row, but has also spent the final hours with men he could not save from execution. He argues that each of us is deserving of mercy. Learn more about Bryan Stevenson in his book, Just Mercy. Criminal is hiring. We’re...

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Episode 44: One Eyed Joe (6.3.2016)
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Not only was John Frankford a famous horse thief, he was also a notoriously good escape artist. People thought no jail was strong enough to keep him, but then in 1895 he was sentenced to Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. At Eastern State, Frankford became the victim of a strange practice that carried implications for both the state of Pennsylvania and the medical establishment as we know it today. Reporter Elana Gordon from WHYY’s The Pulse has today’s story. Criminal is hiring! Come work with us.     John Frankford’s obituary appeared on the front page of the Lancaster Intelligencer newspaper on January 21, 1896 (courtesy of the Lancaster County’s historical...

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Episode 43: 39 Shots (5.20.2016)
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In 1979, a group of labor organizers protested outside a Ku Klux Klan screening of the 1915 white supremacist film, The Birth of a Nation. Nelson Johnson and Signe Waller-Foxworth remember shouting at armed Klansmen and burning a confederate flag, until eventually police forced the KKK inside and the standoff ended without violence. The labor organizers felt they’d won a small victory, and planned a much bigger anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. They advertised with the slogan: “Death to the Klan” and set the date for November 3rd, 1979. As protestors assembled, a caravan of nine cars appeared, and a man in a pick-up truck yelled: “You...

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Episode 42: The Finger (5.6.2016)
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People have been giving each other “the finger” since Ancient Greece. The first documented use is said to be a photograph from 1886 in which the pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters extends his middle finger to the camera (ostensibly to the rival New York Giants). Even though it’s been around for so long, many find the gesture offensive enough to try to bring criminal charges. Courts have ruled that “flipping the bird” is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. It’s not a crime to be obnoxious. But there’s a man in Oregon who tests the limits...

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Episode 41: Open Case (4.15.2016)
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Since 1965, there’s been an unsolved murder in Houston, Texas. The main suspect managed to disappear and police were never able to find him. The case is still considered open. In 1997, a couple of accountants decided to look into the murders, and were able to uncover evidence that the police missed. They think they’ve solved the mystery. – Learn more about Hugh and Martha’s book: The Ice Box Murders. – We’re heading to Los Angeles on May 4th for a special Radiotopia live event. Ten Radiotopia shows are coming together for a live show at the Ace Hotel. Music...

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EPISODE 40: PAPPY (4.1.2016)
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When it comes to the bourbon Pappy Van Winkle, it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have — you can’t get it unless you’re exceptionally lucky or willing to break the law. The Pappy frenzy has law enforcement, bartenders, and even the Van Winkle family themselves wringing their hands.   Interested in buying a bottle? http://howtobuypappy.com/ This story was produced with help from Gravy, a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance. Music in this episode: “Acoustic Blues” by Jason Shaw. “One More Round” by David Szesztay. “Small Bummer” by Podington Bear. “Crime Story” by David Szesztay. “Tennessee...

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