Medieval jails staffed with incompetent physicians, sadistic guards and bored bureaucratic administrators. Judges who throw the book at pathetic junkies charged with petty theft while letting major heroin dealers off with suspended sentences. Judges who work three hours a day in between golf and martinis, vilify black litigants as ""animals"" and ""scum""; judges whose knowledge of the law is minimal but who excel in survival politics and the patronage game. A whole system of criminal justice, in short, which is by no means just but indisputably criminal. The scene is New York City and Newfield's indictment is very nearly total. The book is a collection of his recent investigative reporting, the bulk of which first saw print in the Village Voice. His own voice is tough and angry; what makes it effective is the specificity -- he gets the facts of life in Attica and in the Tombs; he names the names, even putting together a Rogue's Gallery of the ""ten worst judges in New York"" with details of their soft-pedaling of Mafiosi and malicious cruelty to hapless poor and black defendants. In the words of Lenny Bruce: ""In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls."" Even in these unshockable times, it's enough to make you sick.