Criminal Injustice began in 2015 as a collaboration between University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris and NPR station WESA in Pittsburgh. A frequent guest on WESA programs, Harris approached staffers Josh Raulerson and Megan Harris (no relation) with an idea for a podcast: a weekly conversation about problems in the criminal justice system, drawing on his expertise and network of professional contacts.
The project was born of a renewed sense of urgency surrounding the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the nationwide protest movement that emerged in the weeks and months that followed. Since then, the conversation around racial discrimination and use of force by police has only grown more intense and consequential, and Criminal Injustice's audience has grown with it.
For its first two years the podcast was produced jointly by Harris and WESA, with content featured on local broadcasts. It became a fully independent production in 2018, though WESA continues to support Criminal Injustice through the use of its studios, and continues to feature Harris as in-house Legal Analyst.
David A. Harris studies, writes and teaches about police behavior and regulation, law enforcement, and national security issues and the law at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Harris is the leading national authority on racial profiling. His 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work, and his scholarly articles in the field of traffic stops of minority motorists and stops and frisks, influenced the national debate on profiling and related topics. His work led to federal efforts to address the practice and to legislation and voluntary efforts in over half the states and hundreds of police departments. He has testified three times in the U.S. Senate and before many state legislative bodies on profiling and related issues. His 2005 book, Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing, uses case studies from around the country to show that citizens need not trade liberty for safety; they can be safe from criminals and terrorists without sacrificing their civil rights if law enforcement uses strategies based on prevention. He gives speeches and does professional training for law enforcement, judges, and attorneys throughout the country, and presents his work regularly in academic conferences.
Professor Harris also writes and comments frequently in the media on police practices, racial profiling, and other criminal justice and national security issues. He has appeared on The Today Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio, and has been interviewed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. In 1996, Professor Harris served as a member of the Civil Liberties Advisory Board to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. Before he began teaching in 1990, Professor Harris was a public defender in the Washington, D.C. area, a litigator at a law firm in Philadelphia, and law clerk to Federal Judge Walter K. Stapleton in Wilmington, Delaware.
Josh Raulerson is a Pittsburgh-based multimedia producer and editor with deep roots in public radio, including stints as news director at Aspen Public Radio, anchor and weekend host at Iowa Public Radio, and most recently as Morning Edition host at WESA in Pittsburgh, where he developed and produced original programming and podcasts.
Raulerson holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. His adapted doctoral thesis, Singularities (Liverpool University Press 2013), was a finalist for the 2014 Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize from the University of California, Riverside.
He currently serves as Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and hosts the Pennsylvania Legacies podcast.
Megan Harris is a multimedia journalist and editor at 90.5 WESA, where she reports on-air and coordinates digital strategy and presentation of content at wesa.fm. She's also the producer of WESA's weekly news roundup show, The Confluence.
She writes, edits, produces, documents and curates for the station's growing digital properties, including award-winning podcasts, visuals and ongoing reporting projects covering education, rising violent crime rates and more.
Previously, Megan covered K-12 education and bicycle and pedestrian planning for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, education at The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky., and crime and breaking news for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn. She worked for a film production crew near Nashville, Tenn., and covered Division I sports at the University of Memphis.
Production assistance by Katie Blackley, Sarah Kovash, Marcus Charleston, Helen Wigger and Patrick Doyle. Participating interns have included Katie Zilcosky and Alyson Ruggieri.
Photographs courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh and 90.5 WESA.