An impressively synoptic introduction to a socio-economically significant problem.

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THE COSTLY U.S. PRISON SYSTEM

TOO COSTLY IN DOLLARS, NATIONAL PRESTIGE, AND LIVES

An analytical critique of the American prison system coupled with practical strategies to reduce incarceration rates.

The United States has more than 2 million prisoners, proportionately six times that of Europe. The financial costs of keeping so many behind bars are onerously high—$60 billion to $70 billion annually—and also impose steep costs on African-American and Latino communities, which are affected by the long-term absences of fathers, husbands, and providers. To make matters worse, Brakke (Fixing the U.S. Criminal Justice System, 2017, etc.) contends, such high incarceration rates don’t necessarily translate into fewer violent crimes, which occur at higher rates here than in Europe. The author begins his exploration of the problem by supplying a concise history of its origins: a nationwide uptick in crime in the 1960s and its sensationalist coverage by the media inspired politicians to hyperbolically demonstrate their toughness on crime. Even after violent crime diminished in the ’90s, the strong attitude of “public punitiveness” never fully abated. Brakke compares the prison system of the United States to several international alternatives as he looks into possible ways to reduce incarceration and recidivism. He also looks at places within the United States that have achieved some degree of success in these areas, such as New York City and the state of Oregon. The book provides a surfeit of practical solutions, including shifting the correctional emphasis from punishment to rehabilitation, curbing prosecutors’ zeal by converting their elected positions into appointments, and providing more job and literacy training to prisoners. Brakke covers much of this ground in his previous book on the criminal justice system, but the discussion of recidivism is much more extensive here, and the comparative study of prison systems is eye-opening. The author, who’s politically conservative, has a tendency to discuss liberals with too broad a partisan brush—a practice that belies the general empirical rigor of the book. Still, this is a remarkably comprehensive work given its brevity, argued with clarity and incisiveness.

An impressively synoptic introduction to a socio-economically significant problem.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947466-37-1

Page Count: 226

Publisher: American Leadership Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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