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Rule of law has vanished in America’s criminal justice system. Prosecutors decide whom to punish; most accused never face a jury; policing is inconsistent; plea bargaining is rampant; and draconian sentencing fills prisons with mostly minority defendants. A leading criminal law scholar looks to history for the roots of these problems—and solutions.
Rule of law has vanished in America’s criminal justice system. Prosecutors decide whom to punish; most accused never face a jury; policing is inconsistent; plea bargaining is rampant; and draconian sentencing fills prisons with mostly minority defendants. A leading criminal law scholar looks to history for the roots of these problems—and solutions.
The rule of law has vanished in America's criminal justice system. Prosecutors now decide whom to punish and how severely. Almost no one accused of a crime will ever face a jury. Inconsistent policing, rampant plea bargaining, overcrowded courtrooms, and ever more draconian sentencing have produced a gigantic prison population, with black citizens the primary defendants and victims of crime. In this passionately argued book, the leading criminal law scholar of his generation looks to history for the roots of these problems -- and for their solutions. The Collapse of American Criminal Justice takes us deep into the dramatic history of American crime -- bar fights in nineteenth-century Chicago, New Orleans bordellos, Prohibition, and decades of murderous lynching. Digging into these crimes and the strategies that attempted to control them, Stuntz reveals the costs of abandoning local democratic control. The system has become more centralized, with state legislators and federal judges given increasing power. The liberal Warren Supreme Court's emphasis on procedures, not equity, joined hands with conservative insistence on severe punishment to create a system that is both harsh and ineffective. What would get us out of this Kafkaesque world? More trials with local juries; laws that accurately define what prosecutors seek to punish; and an equal protection guarantee like the one that died in the 1870s, to make prosecution and punishment less discriminatory. Above all, Stuntz eloquently argues, Americans need to remember again that criminal punishment is a necessary but terrible tool, to use effectively, and sparingly. - Publisher.
This critical yet honest appraisal of our criminal justice system addresses its strengths and its flaws—and makes recommendations for improvement. * Provides an extensive bibliography including books, journal articles, newspaper accounts, and government documents * Includes a chronology
This volume brings together twelve leading American criminal justice scholars whose own writings have been profoundly influenced by William Stuntz and his work. Both as a tribute to Stuntz's work and as a source of profound new insights, this book examines his role in the renaissance of criminal procedure as a cutting-edge discipline, and as inseparably linked to substantive criminal law.
In this revised edition of their concise, readable, yet wide-ranging book, Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox tackle a question students and scholars of law, criminology, and political science constantly face: what mistakes have led to the problems that pervade the criminal justice system in the United States? The reluctance of criminal justice policymakers to talk openly about failure, the authors argue, has stunted the public conversation about crime in this country and stifled new ideas. It has also contributed to our inability to address such problems as chronic offending in low-income neighborhoods, an overreliance on incarceration, the misuse of pretrial detention, and the high rates of recidivism among parolees. Berman and Fox offer students and policymakers an escape from this fate by writing about failure in the criminal justice system. Their goal is to encourage a more forthright dialogue about criminal justice, one that acknowledges that many new initiatives fail and that no one knows for certain how to reduce crime. For the authors, this is not a source of pessimism, but a call to action. This revised edition is updated with a new foreword by Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., and afterword by Greg Berman.
Two centuries ago, American criminal justice was run primarily by laymen. Jury trials passed moral judgment on crimes, vindicated victims and innocent defendants, and denounced the guilty. But since then, lawyers have gradually taken over the process, silencing victims and defendants and, in many cases, substituting plea bargaining for the voice of the jury. The public sees little of how this assembly-line justice works, and victims and defendants have largely lost their day in court. As a result, victims rarely hear defendants express remorse and apologize, and defendants rarely receive forgiveness. This lawyerized machinery has purchased efficient, speedy processing of many cases at the price of sacrificing softer values, such as reforming defendants and healing wounded victims and relationships. In other words, the U.S. legal system has bought quantity at the price of quality, without recognizing either the trade-off or the great gulf separating lawyers' and laymen's incentives, values, and powers. In The Machinery of Criminal Justice, author Stephanos Bibas surveys the developments over the last two centuries, considers what we have lost in our quest for efficient punishment, and suggests ways to include victims, defendants, and the public once again. Ideas range from requiring convicts to work or serve in the military, to moving power from prosecutors to restorative sentencing juries. Bibas argues that doing so might cost more, but it would better serve criminal procedure's interests in denouncing crime, vindicating victims, reforming wrongdoers, and healing the relationships torn by crime.

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