A thorough and innovative look at a burgeoning national problem.

FIXING THE U.S. CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

A book calls for the reform of the American criminal justice system.

The United States has the highest incarceration rates in the world and a prison system that annually imposes unsustainably astronomical costs. Even worse, Brakke (The Price of Justice in America, 2016, etc.) argues, the social costs of its dysfunction are devastating. Families are financially ruined and torn asunder by emotional distress; children are forced to grow up without their fathers; and a toxic prison culture contributes to skyrocketing rates of criminal recidivism. The author investigates the issue from a myriad of broad perspectives, thoughtfully discussing prosecutorial and judicial dereliction, police misconduct, and systemic problems like a plea-bargaining system that unfairly disadvantages poorer defendants. He excoriates the failed war on drugs, not only for its role in filling prisons with nonviolent offenders saddled with indefensibly punitive sentences, but also for its pervasive racial bias. Furthermore, Brakke blames sensationalist journalism for irresponsibly depicting defendants as guilty irrespective of the available evidence and for fanning the already hot flames of racial tension. In his passionate and meticulous book, Brakke prescribes numerous, detailed solutions to these nagging problems, including a greater emphasis on rehabilitation in prison, increased judicial discretion with respect to sentencing, and a standardized system for training police officers in the use of deadly force. Some of his suggestions are not only familiar, but also widely practiced; for example, equipping police officers with cameras to encourage better behavior. But he also offers intriguingly novel ones, like establishing separate courts for urban, suburban, and rural areas and promoting a more sensitive, localized approach to law enforcement while neutralizing the prejudices upper-class citizens harbor about inner-city life. Some of his more controversial judgments could use more empirical substantiation; for example, Brakke claims that, with respect to the media, “liberal racial bias seems to target whites.” But the study is generally rigorous and evenhanded and makes an admirable effort, in plainly readable prose, to consider opposing sides on any given issue. His measured tone is especially notable when discussing particularly contentious topics like the police use of stop-and-identify to canvass for criminal suspects.

A thorough and innovative look at a burgeoning national problem.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947466-34-0

Page Count: 142

Publisher: American Leadership Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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