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THE TRUE CAUSES OF MASS INCARCERATION—AND HOW TO ACHIEVE REAL REFORM

A thorough and demanding examination of a problem that has no easy solutions and a challenge to policymakers to discard...

Why the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and what can be done to address the problem.

Pfaff (Fordham Law School; Sentencing Law and Policy, 2015) challenges the commonly held belief that American prisons are filled with low-level drug offenders as a result of the war on drugs. What is not in dispute is that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. With a formidable array of statistics, cited in the dense text and often also shown in chart and tabular form, the author examines crimes rates and incarceration rates, giving a useful picture of the prison population over time. Surprisingly, a very small percentage of state prisoners are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, while more than half are in for violent crimes. From his extensive research, Pfaff asserts that a significant cause of the rise in prison growth are rising admissions, and he points to the increasing rate at which prosecutors filed felony charges against arrestees during years when both crime rates and arrests fell. He proposes several approaches to regulating tough, aggressive prosecutors, whom he calls the engines driving mass incarceration, among them adequately funding public defenders, establishing charging and plea bargaining guidelines, appointing rather than electing prosecutors, and establishing sentencing commissions. If there is a take-home message from Pfaff’s book, it is that the problem of mass incarceration is massive and complicated, that it is a state rather than federal problem, that solutions must come from state and county governments, and that they involve changing public attitudes about balancing the costs of crime and the costs of punishment.

A thorough and demanding examination of a problem that has no easy solutions and a challenge to policymakers to discard prior notions about the nature of the problem and the needed reforms.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-465-09691-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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