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At The Cross: Race, Religion, & Citizenship in the Politics of the Death PenaltyAt The Cross: Race, Religion, & Citizenship in the Politics of the Death Penalty
Author: Melynda J. Price
Publisher: New York; Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015. 232p.
Reviewer: Whitley Kaufman | July 2015

As Melynda J. Price argues in her new book, At the Cross,the death penalty in America functions as a measure of the extent to which blacks are fully included as citizens; it is a “metric” blacks use to “measure the value the state places on their collective lives.” This is true especially in Texas, and most especially in the Houston area, which is the main focus of Price’s book. Our reviewer, Whitley Kaufman, argues that African Americans’ attitudes about the death penalty are perhaps more complicated than Price suggests. Although slightly more than half of blacks in the Houston area surveyed opposed it, slightly less than half favored it. Kaufman suggests that such a division may reflect the fact that, though a disproportionate number of those sentenced to death are African Americans, so too are the victims of violent crime.

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Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and GlobalizationDecoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization
Author: Jana Arsovska
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015. 312p.
Reviewer: Dwight C. Smith, Jr. | July 2015

The author of Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization, Jana Arsovska, is, according to reviewer Dwight Smith, in a unique position to write this book from the inside. She is herself a native Macedonian, an experienced ethnographer, and most especially, a victim of extortion by Albanian organized criminals. Drawing upon his own work and theoretical perspective, Smith takes issue with what he calls Arsovska’s reliance on the so-called “alien conspiracy” theory of organized crime. Nevertheless, he calls this “a fine book -- well organized, well researched, well presented, and a positive contribution to the field.”

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Immigration Outside the Law Immigration Outside the Law
Author: Hiroshi Motomura
Publisher: New York; Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014. 360p.
Reviewer: Gabriel J. Chin | July 2015

In the landmark 1982 case of Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court held that children have a right to attend public primary and secondary schools even if they are in the United States unlawfully. Though Plyler decided an important issue, debates over “illegal” immigration have become more polarized than ever. In his new book, Hiroshi Motomura offers a framework for understanding why these debates are so contentious, and a proposal for resolving many of them. Our reviewer, Gabriel Chin, found the book “immensely thoughtful and provocative... essential reading for anyone interested in the subject.”

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Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and CanadaDisability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada
Editors: Liat Ben-Moshe, Chris Chapman, and Allison C. Carey
Publisher: Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 316p.
Reviewer: Beth A. Easterling | July 2015

There is considerable discussion currently in criminal justice circles of what has come to be called mass incarceration – 2.2 million inmates in U.S. jails and prisons. Of particular concern is the inappropriate incarceration of the mentally ill. The various authors in the edited volume Disability Incarcerated: Imprisonment and Disability in the United States and Canada, take on this general topic.  Our reviewer, Beth Easterling, faults what she calls the misleading title of the book, in that she says it deals neither with disabilities defined broadly, not does it specifically focus on imprisonment. Instead, the title of the book is much more symbolic than literal.  She concludes that the authors invite readers to “think more deeply about the history of disability incarceration, its place in the era of mass incarceration, and the challenges we face in reforming our punitive systems.”

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Citizen Convicts: Prisoners, Politics and the VoteCitizen Convicts: Prisoners, Politics and the Vote
Author: Cormac Behan
Publisher: Manchester, UK; New York: Manchester University Press, 2014. 214p.
Reviewer: Mary Sigler | July 2015

Should prisoners have the right to vote, whether while they are serving their terms in prison, or after they get out? Cormac Behan considers the experience of prisoner enfranchisement in Ireland and more broadly in western democracies, arguing that such policies reveal wider historical, political and social truths about the treatment of inmates. Our reviewer, Mary Sigler, thinks Behan does a good job of describing the history of prisoner enfranchisement in Ireland, but she finds his normative arguments in favor of universal voting rights insufficiently developed. Behan believes that felon disenfranchisement violates the principle that similarly situated citizens should be treated equally, but he does not seem to object to the practice of denying inmates their personal liberty, and, according to Sigler, provides no argument to show that denying them the franchise threatens equal citizenship in a way that incarceration itself does not.

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Reintegrative Justice in Practice: The Informal Management of Crime in an Island CommunityReintegrative Justice in Practice: The Informal Management of Crime in an Island Community
Authors: Helen Miles and Peter Raynor
Publisher: Farnham, Surrey, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014. 244p.
Reviewer: Kerry Clamp | July 2015

Reviewer Kerry Clamp says Helen Miles and Peter Raynor’s book Reintegrative Justice in Practice: The Informal Management of Crime in an Island Community is a “well-written, informative and engaging overview of an ancient justice tradition operating in the [British] channel island of Jersey.” Focusing on community rather than individual justice, the unique contribution of the book, according to Clamp, is that it describes the impact and effectiveness of a more informal, traditional and locally-based approach to seeking justice as compared with the formal criminal justice process.

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