Criminal is unique among crime podcasts: it doesn't simply focus on one type of crime, the stories it covers span centuries, and episodes rarely exceed 30 minutes. The best episodes of Criminal allow average people to speak about extraordinary events, bolstered by host Phoebe Judge's interviews. Judge has interviewed lawyers, historians, crime victims, and more, creating an intimate environment that often feels like your best friend telling you about the strangest thing that's ever happened to them.
Each episode starts with a cold open; Judge introduces the case, and just when she's built the perfect amount of anticipation, she says, "I'm Phoebe Judge. This is Criminal." Since 2016, Criminal episodes have explored everything from the difficulties of police evidence recovery to ultra-rare bourbon. These are the best episodes of the Criminal podcast, ranked by listeners.
'Melinda And Clarence' (Episode 54)
In the second half of a two-part episode, Melinda Dawson, a "Hicks baby" who had been illegally adopted at birth, uncovers the truth about her mother's murder. Police arrested Melinda's husband, Clarence, for the crime, but Melinda knew Clarence was innocent.Is this a criminally good episode?
'Walnut Grove' (Episode 38)
A harrowing look inside the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which one Federal judge called "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts."Is this a criminally good episode?
'Brownie Lady' (Episode 47)
Meridy Volz ran a highly successful business in San Francisco in the 1970s: she baked and sold pot brownies. And she was never caught.Is this a criminally good episode?
'Palace Of Justice' (Episode 97)
Lawyer Benjamin Ferencz recalls prosecuting officers in Hitler's regime at the Einsatzgruppen trial in 1947.Is this a criminally good episode?