In a hard-hitting study hailed by "Publishers Weekly" as "well-argued" and "passionate, " a leading constitutional scholar reveals that, despite a veneer of neutrality, race- and class-based double standards operate in virtually every criminal justice setting, from police behavior to jury selection to sentencing.
The race problem in the American criminal justice system persists because we enable it. The tendency of liberals to point a finger at law enforcement, racial conservatives, the War on Drugs, is misguided. Black as well as white voters, Democrat as much as Republican lawmakers, President Obama as much as Reagan, both Congress and the Supreme Court alike; all are implicated. We all are 'The Man'. Whether the problem is defined in terms of blacks' overrepresentation in prisons or in terms of the disproportional use of deadly police force against blacks, not enough of us demand that something be done. The Political Roots of Racial Tracking in American Criminal Justice is the story of how the race problem in criminal justice is continually enabled in the national crime policy process, and why.
The U.S. has made significant progress toward ensuring equal treatment under law for all citizens. But in one arena -- criminal justice -- racial inequality is growing, not receding. Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a massively & pervasively biased manner. The injustices of the criminal justice system threaten to render irrelevant 50 years of hard-fought civil rights progress. This policy report examines the systematically unequal treatment of black & Hispanic Americans & other minorities as compared to their similarly situated white counterparts within the criminal justice system. It reviews the effects of such unequal treatment on these groups & on the criminal justice system.
America is the most punitive nation in the world, incarcerating more than 2.3 million people—or one in 136 of its residents. Against the backdrop of this unprecedented mass imprisonment, punishment permeates everyday life, carrying with it complex cultural meanings. In The Culture of Punishment, Michelle Brown goes beyond prison gates and into the routine and popular engagements of everyday life, showing that those of us most distanced from the practice of punishment tend to be particularly harsh in our judgments. The Culture of Punishment takes readers on a tour of the sites where culture and punishment meet—television shows, movies, prison tourism, and post 9/11 new war prisons—demonstrating that because incarceration affects people along distinct race and class lines, it is only a privileged group of citizens who are removed from the experience of incarceration. These penal spectators, who often sanction the infliction of pain from a distance, risk overlooking the reasons for democratic oversight of the project of punishment and, more broadly, justifications for the prohibition of pain.
Crime in the United States has fluctuated considerably over the past thirty years, as have the policy approaches to deal with it. During this time criminologists and other scholars have helped to shed light on the role of incarceration, prevention, drugs, guns, policing, and numerous other aspects to crime control. Yet the latest research is rarely heard in public discussions and is often missing from the desks of policymakers. This book accessibly summarizes the latest scientific information on the causes of crime and evidence about what does and does not work to control it. Thoroughly revised and updated, this new version of Crime and Public Policy will include twenty chapters and five new substantial entries. As with previous editions, each essay reviews the existing literature, discusses the methodological rigor of the studies, identifies what policies and programs the studies suggest, and then points to policies now implemented that fail to reflect the evidence. The chapters cover the principle institutions of the criminal justice system (juvenile justice, police, prisons, probation and parole, sentencing), how broader aspects of social life inhibit or encourage crime (biology, schools, families, communities), and topics currently generating a great deal of attention (criminal activities of gangs, sex offenders, prisoner reentry, changing crime rates). With contributions from trusted, leading scholars, Crime and Public Policy offers the most comprehensive and balanced guide to how the latest and best social science research informs the understanding of crime and its control for policymakers, community leaders, and students of crime and criminal justice.
In a series of newly commissioned essays from the leading scholars and advocates in criminal justice, Invisible Punishment explores, for the first time, the far-reaching consequences of our current criminal justice policies. Adopted as part of “get tough on crime” attitudes that prevailed in the 1980s and ’90s, a range of strategies, from “three strikes” and “a war on drugs,” to mandatory sentencing and prison privatization, have resulted in the mass incarceration of American citizens, and have had enormous effects not just on wrong-doers, but on their families and the communities they come from. This book looks at the consequences of these policies twenty years later.
In this compulsively readable social history, political scientist Stephen Pimpare vividly describes poverty from the perspective of poor and welfare-reliant Americans from the big city to the rural countryside. He focuses on how the poor have created community, secured shelter, and found food and illuminates their battles for dignity and respect. Through prodigious archival research and lucid analysis, Pimpare details the ways in which charity and aid for the poor have been inseparable, more often than not, from the scorn and disapproval of those who would help them. In the rich and often surprising historical testimonies he has collected from the poor in America, Pimpare overturns any simple conclusions about how the poor see themselves or what it feels like to be poor—and he shows clearly that the poor are all too often aware that charity comes with a price. It is that price that Pimpare eloquently questions in this book, reminding us through powerful anecdotes, some heart-wrenching and some surprisingly humorous, that poverty is not simply a moral failure.
#1 New York Times Bestseller | Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction | Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction | Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award | Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize | Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize | An American Library Association Notable Book A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. Praise for Just Mercy “Every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so . . . a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books “Searing, moving . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times “You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. . . . The message of this book . . . is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review “Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post “As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times “Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer “Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham “Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
A man murders his wife after she has admitted her infidelity; another man kills an openly gay teammate after receiving a massage; a third man, white, goes for a jog in a “bad” neighborhood, carrying a pistol, and shoots an African American teenager who had his hands in his pockets. When brought before the criminal justice system, all three men argue that they should be found “not guilty”; the first two use the defense of provocation, while the third argues he used his gun in self-defense. Drawing upon these and similar cases, Cynthia Lee shows how two well-established, traditional criminal law defenses—the doctrines of provocation and self-defense—enable majority-culture defendants to justify their acts of violence. While the reasonableness requirement, inherent in both defenses, is designed to allow community input and provide greater flexibility in legal decision-making, the requirement also allows majority-culture defendants to rely on dominant social norms, such as masculinity, heterosexuality, and race (i.e., racial stereotypes), to bolster their claims of reasonableness. At the same time, Lee examines other cases that demonstrate that the reasonableness requirement tends to exclude the perspectives of minorities, such as heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, and persons of color. Murder and the Reasonable Man not only shows how largely invisible social norms and beliefs influence the outcomes of certain criminal cases, but goes further, suggesting three tentative legal reforms to address problems of bias and undue leniency. Ultimately, Lee cautions that the true solution lies in a change in social attitudes.
This ain't no Dreamgirls," Rhodessa Jones warns participants in the Medea Project, the theater program for incarcerated women that she founded and directs. Her expectations are grounded in reality, tempered, for example, by the fact that women are the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons. Still, Jones believes that by engaging incarcerated women in the process of developing and staging dramatic works based on their own stories, she can push them toward tapping into their own creativity, confronting the problems that landed them in prison, and taking control of their lives. Rena Fraden chronicles the collaborative process of transforming incarcerated women's stories into productions that incorporate Greek mythology, hip-hop music, dance, and autobiography. She captures a diverse array of voices, including those of Jones and other artists, the sheriff and prison guards, and, most vividly, the women themselves. Through compelling narrative and thoughtful commentary, Fraden investigates the Medea Project's blend of art and activism and considers its limits and possibilities for enacting social change. Rhodessa Jones is co-artistic director of the San Francisco-based performance company Cultural Odyssey and founder of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women. An award-winning performer, she has taught at the Yale School of Drama and the New College of California.