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The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American DreamThe Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream
Author: Randol Contreras
Publisher: Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2012. 296p.
Reviewer: Mercer L. Sullivan | January 2015

Mercer Sullivan describes Randol Contreras’ The Stickup Kids: Race, Drugs, Violence, and the American Dream as being an ethnographic study that is “at once a sensational, detailed, stomach-churning account of extreme violence and a sober, solid piece of social science research”! This is a rather heady characterization to say the least. The setting for Contreras’ research is the Dominican neighborhoods of New York City in the late 1990s and 2000s, a time when the crack epidemic was waning, and thus the entrepreneurs of crack had to turn to other criminal endeavors. The principal one was robbing drug dealers, and violence became a core activity rather than simply an ancillary one. This book not only tells a chilling story, but raises a number of questions about ethnographic research as well.

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Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Boxes to Citizens UnitedCorruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Boxes to Citizens United
Author: Zephyr Teachout
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 384p.
Reviewer: Peter J. Henning | January 2015

Professor Zephyr Teachout, candidate for governor in New York in 2014, has written a book about corruption in government. Corruption in America stresses that the Framers, from the Federalist papers to the structure of the Constitution, sought to infuse an anticorruption principle into the federal government. But over the centuries, the notion of corruption, and the fight against it, has transformed from a broad principle to a narrower legal proscription. After Citizens United, Teachout argues, the prosecution of bribery has come to signify the outer limit of what can be considered corrupt. Peter Henning’s review concludes that Corruption in America is thoroughly researched and consistently interesting in its treatment of the anticorruption principle in American political and legal life. It joins Judge John Noonan’s Bribes as one of the leading treatments of the history of corruption.

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Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia: Professional Girlfriends and Transactional RelationshipsSex, Love and Money in Cambodia: Professional Girlfriends and Transactional Relationships
Author: Heidi Hoefinger
Publisher: New York: Routledge, 2013. 218p.
Reviewer: Susan Dewey | January 2015

Into the increasing body of research and writing on human trafficking – and specifically sex trafficking – comes anthropologist Heidi Hoefinger’s report on her work with young women in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, titled Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia: Professional Girlfriends and Transactional Relationships. Hoefinger is in the camp of those studying sex trafficking who believe that “transactional sex may facilitate individual self-actualization, albeit sometimes in extremely constrained socioeconomic circumstances.” In other words, sex workers exercise some degree of choice about what they are doing, but that choice is limited by their sometimes dire circumstances; and Hoefinger’s description of “professional girlfriends” is an excellent illustration of that. Susan Dewey calls this book “a useful contribution to the burgeoning literature on sex work.”

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Kafka’s Law: The Trial and American Criminal JusticeKafka’s Law: The Trial and American Criminal Justice
Author: Robert P. Burns
Publisher: Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2014. 192p.
Reviewer: Albert W. Dzur | January 2015

What can Kafka’s nightmarish novel, The Trial set early in the twentieth century in an unspecified modern metropolis – tell us about the contemporary American system of criminal justice? Quite a lot, according to Robert Burns. As our reviewer, Albert Dzur, explains, what sets this new book apart from Burn’s previous works is “the heightened critique of contemporary practices conveyed by his alarming comparison with the hallucinatory legal realm that torments and ultimately annihilates Josef K.’’ Dzur finds Burn’s book “excellent” and “compelling,” though perhaps “too cautious.”

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Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America’s Civil Rights MurdersRacial Reckoning: Prosecuting America’s Civil Rights Murders
Author: Renee C. Romano
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014. 280p.
Reviewer: Angela Mae Kupenda | January 2015

Many of the most serious crimes committed by whites resisting the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and ‘60s were never prosecuted until decades later, when prosecutors, pushed by activists, in a presumably more enlightened South, began reopening cases that had lain dormant for many years. Many in the media have viewed these prosecutions as proof of a politically rehabilitated South. In her new book, Renee Romano questions that view. “While reopening (the cases) gave some relief to families and communities seeking fuller justice in America,” writes our reviewer Angela Mae Kupenda in her enthusiastic review, “the trials were only a step toward racial reckoning.”

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The Unlawful Society: Global Crime and Security in a Complex WorldThe Unlawful Society: Global Crime and Security in a Complex World
Author: Paul Battersby
Publisher: Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 290p.
Reviewer: David O. Friedrichs | January 2015

Crime and crime control is becoming increasingly global and transnational as the 21st century unfolds. As globalization is inevitable, it would seem that all those interested and involved with the related issues will have to re-orient their scope and focus as well. The globalization of crime is the subject of The Unlawful Society: Global Crime and Security in a Complex World by Paul Battersby. It is a complex subject, and necessarily so. But in the view of reviewer David Friedrichs, Battersby may have made it even more so – and Friedrichs wonders about the book’s accessibility to a broad criminological reading audience. Nevertheless, Friedrichs concludes that “any serious students of crime and criminal law - who commit themselves to engaging fully with the book should be rewarded with a richer, more sophisticated understanding of the increasingly complex world within which crime and its control plays out.”

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Showing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of EmotionShowing Remorse: Law and the Social Control of Emotion
Author: Richard Weisman
Publisher: Farnham, Surrey, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 149p.
Reviewer: Richard A. Bierschbach | January 2015

For the last couple of decades, scholars have been exploring the ways in which the emotion of remorse informs the criminal justice system, particularly in terms of punishment deserved, likelihood of recidivism, and defense strategies. These scholars “rarely zoom the lens out all the way to investigate the social practices that are inextricably intertwined with attributions of and reactions to remorse,” according to our reviewer Richard Bierschbach. In his new book, Richard Weisman seeks to do just that, drawing on a rich array of materials to “advance his central claim that expressions of remorse are regulative events mediated by social symbols, interpretations, and narratives.” the result, says Bierschbach, is “engaging” and “refreshing.”

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Capital Punishment: New PerspectivesCapital Punishment: New Perspectives
Editor: Peter Hodgkinson
Publisher: Farnham, Surrey, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2013. 408p.
Reviewer: Andrew Novak | January 2015

Reviewer Andrew Novak calls Capital Punishment: New Perspectives, edited by Peter Hodgkinson, a wide-ranging and long overdue critique of the death penalty abolition movement. Novak and Hodgkinson, et al., seem to agree that the abolitionist movement has pursued the “same tired strategies and messaging.” And this is not the only potentially controversial assertion made here. For example, in answer to the question of whether life without parole in place of the death penalty is a victory for human rights, reviewer Novak’s answer is “yes and no.” His overall conclusion about the book is that it is “ambitious, not only for its scope, but also for its courage in tackling the echo chamber of death penalty abolition.”

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Tough on Hate?: The Cultural Politics of Hate CrimesTough on Hate?: The Cultural Politics of Hate Crimes
Author: Clara S. Lewis
Publisher: New Brunswick, NJ; Rutgers University Press, 2013. 192p.
Reviewer: Brian Levin | January 2015

Clara S. Lewis’ Tough on Hate focuses a harsh analytic spotlight on the limitations of hate crime statutes, and the cultural politics relating to their institutionalization in the United States over recent decades” says our reviewer Brian Levy. Hate crimes – that is crimes that target victims specifically because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation – and hate crime legislation, are a continuing subject of discussion and controversy. Levy believes Lewis’ examination of this issue is particularly important because “combatting contemporary bigotry must be reassessed and expanded to include not only sensationalized violence, but other pervasive yet often ignored harms, that prejudice continues to inflict in our society.

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Football Hooliganism, Fan Behaviour And Crime: Contemporary IssuesFootball Hooliganism, Fan Behaviour And Crime: Contemporary Issues
Editors: Matt Hopkins and James Treadwell
Publisher: London; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 328p.
Reviewer: Ellis Cashmore | January 2015

Why does soccer (aka football) seem to generate so much hooliganism, particularly as it is played in Europe, South America, and Asia? Matt Hopkins and James Treadwell have assembled a collection of contributions, mostly from British sociologists, that attempt to answer that question. This is potentially great subject matter, says our reviewer, Ellis Cashmore, especially today, when violence at football matches appears to have gone global and manifested in Africa and Asia. The final result, however, is like an unmade bed: rumpled, inchoate and uneven. Some of the contributions are as welcome as fresh linen, while others are like well-punched pillows.

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