Case studies form the nucleus of this introduction to the ever changing nature of crime and punishment in the United States.
This slim volume seeks to introduce young readers to the various complexities of crime and punishment. An important aspect of these ideas is how society’s views have changed over the years. By following the law school model and exploring actual cases, readers are able to ponder abstract ideas via concrete examples. One of the first cases involves a 12-year-old who knowingly purchased a valuable baseball card at much less than its market value. Was this theft or merely taking advantage of a clerk’s error? Many of the examples are more consequential and show the far-reaching nature of criminal law. There are cases involving race, mental competence, the banking system, terrorism and more. This wide range is both a strength and weakness: Readers can get a sense of the law’s pervasiveness, but it also means that each subject receives limited coverage. The author is clear that this book is designed to raise questions and encourage readers to delve further. The format does not add much to aid in engagement: Occasional photographs and sidebars do little to relieve the text. There is a helpful glossary, suggestions for further reading, source notes and a comprehensive bibliography.
Given the paucity of books on the law for young readers, this fills a niche, but here’s hoping a more engaging and vibrant replacement comes along soon. (photo credits, index not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-16)