CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE by Donald R. Cressey

CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After Ramsay Clark's in-touch Crime in America (1970) and a recent spate of books on more limited aspects of the clogged judiciary (e.g., Leonard Downie Justice Denied, p. 403), this anthology of New York Times Magazine pieces, some dating back as far as 1952, seems threadbare and redundant. Contributors include Fred J. Cook, Alan Westin and Justice William J. Brennan addressing themselves to the usual themes: overcrowded court calendars, prisons that don't rehabilitate, crime as an expression of the whole ""violent subculture"" of the ghetto, recent Supreme Court decisions which may, but probably don't, 'handcuff' the cops. Cressey seems sanguine unto smugness about such ad hoc, pis aller judicial procedures as ""plea bargaining,"" which is euphemistically termed ""criminal justice administration"" and lauded for ""flexibility"" and the ""discretionary character of the decisions made."" Of some interest is the short section on ""Experiments in Change"" which includes enthusiastic considerations of the Family Crisis Intervention Unit -- cops as social workers, trouble-shooters and marriage counselors -- on Manhattan's upper west side; work furloughs for inmates of California penal institutions; and a brief tour of Synanon. ""Proposals for Change"" -- well-intentioned but impractical -- include a look at how Britain awards monetary compensation to the victims of crime and one more plea for abolishing prisons on the grounds that they are expensive and don't work. One cheery note: there's always been a crime wave; crime in L.A., Chicago or New York can go up or down by 40% ""overnight,"" reflecting nothing more ominous than ""honest shifts of the bases for statistical recordings."" There are many glaring omissions: organized and white-collar malfeasances are not mentioned, and there's a bland inconclusiveness about most of the selections which belies the intrinsic urgency of the problems outlined.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Quadrangle