Full Reviews


Fifty Years Of Causes Of Delinquency: The Criminology Of Travis Hirschi. Advances In Criminological Theory, Volume 25

Editors: James C. Oleson and Barbara J. Costello
Publisher: New York: Routledge, 2019. 394p.
Reviewer: Michael R. Gottfredson | November 2020

Travis Hirschi is widely recognized as one of the principal founders of modern criminology.  The book Fifty Years of Causes of Delinquency: The Criminology of Travis Hirschi, edited by James C. Oleson and Barbara J. Costello, and reviewed here by Michael R. Gottfredson certainly attests to Hirschi’s influence.  Gottfredson, who as a colleague of Travis Hirschi collaborated with him in the development of the enormously influential A general theory of crime, says of the current book: “…. these essays and empirical studies illustrate both the historical and the contemporary relevance of the ideas Travis first presented half a century ago…. These papers themselves will very likely stimulate considerable interesting and diverse scholarship in the field.”  Gottfredson calls this book remarkably illustrative of the contemporary impact of Hirschi’s work.

Selma And The Liuzzo Murder Trials: The First Modern Civil Rights Convictions

Author: James P. Turner
Publisher: Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018, 110p.
Reviewer: Robert A. Pratt | November 2020

The year 1965 was smack in the middle of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.  This was a decade of major achievements in the civil rights arena, but also one of setbacks and some horrific side effects of those efforts.  One of those occurred on the night of March 25, 1965.  Following a voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Viola Liuzzo, a forty-three-year-old white Detroit homemaker and mother of five who had come to Alabama to drive marchers from Montgomery back to Selma, was shot and killed by a group of Klu Klux Klansmen.  In Selma and the Liuzzo Murder Trials, reviewed here by Robert Pratt, James P. Turner, who is a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, “provides a compelling first-person account of the federal government’s quest to secure justice for Viola Liuzzo, ultimately leading to the first modern civil rights convictions.”

Solitary Confinement: Effects, Practices, And Pathways Toward Reform

Authors: Jules Lobel & Peter Scharff Smith
Publisher: Oxford, UK; New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 396p.
Reviewer: Terry A. Kupers | November 2020

One of the conundrums facing prison administrators is what to do with prison inmates who act out violently.  One common, perhaps the most common, response has been to place such inmates in solitary confinement.  In his review of Solitary Confinement: Effects, Practices, and Pathways toward Reform, edited by Jules Lobel and Peter Scharff Smith, Terry Kupers says that “applying a risk/benefit analysis to solitary confinement, it becomes obvious that there is huge risk in terms of the pain and human damage solitary causes, but there really are no benefits as violence and gang activity continue unabated in the prisons.” The authors here, who come from varied backgrounds, not only conclude that it is past time to end solitary confinement, but most importantly, they recommend plans for doing so.  Kupers finds their arguments eloquent and convincing.   

On Corruption In America – And What Is At Stake

Author: Sarah Chayes
Publisher: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. 414p.
Reviewer: David O. Friedrichs | November 2020

“Corruption kills.  Corruption destroys.”  So begins David Friedrich’s review of Sarah Chayes’s On Corruption in America – And what is at stake!  Friedrich says that anyone “approaching a book entitled ‘On Corruption in America’ anticipating either a systematic, impersonal survey of corruption in America or a full-fledged review of the case of [President] Trump and his [in Friedrich’s view] corrupt administration will not here find either.”  Instead, he says, the book “takes the form of mixing up expository sections with deep dives into ancient and not-so-ancient history along with accounts of [the author’s] personal experiences and encounters.” Arguing that criminology should be devoting far more attention to the crime of corruption, the reviewer concludes that “Sarah Chayes’ book should be one core resource for a criminology of corruption.”

Confessions Of A Free Speech Lawyer: Charlottesville And The Politics Of Hate

Author: Rodney A. Smolla
Publisher: Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2020. 360p.
Reviewer: Clay Calvert | November 2020

Reviewer Clay Calvert calls Rodney Smolla’s Confessions of a Free Speech Lawyer: Charlottesville and the Politics of Hate, “a timely, informative, and oftentimes first-person examination of … thorny free-speech issues.” “[I]n a nutshell,” Calvert says, “this book uses Charlottesville and the University of Virginia – their complex histories intertwined with their noble forward-thinking ambitions, as well as the individuals, movements, and events that engulfed them during the summer of 2017 – as springboards for launching into a lively, vignette-packed analysis of the contentious nexus between racism and free expression.” Calvert calls Smolla’s book “an exceedingly valuable – even essential – book about racism, hate speech, and the First Amendment precisely at the moment that it is most needed.”

Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes

Author: Ronald C. Kramer
Publisher: New Brunswick, NJ; and London: Rutgers University Press, 2020. 281p.
Reviewer: Gregg Barak | November 2020

Among the pressing issues facing the world today is the controversy over climate change and global warming.  This controversy revolves around whether these are real problems, and if so, what to do about them.  In his review of Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes, by Ronald C. Kramer, our reviewer Gregg Barak refers to the causes of a panoply of environmental destructive activities as “ecocide, or…the extensive damage to, destruction of, or loss of ecosystems by human activity.” Kramer describes his book’s focus to be green criminology, and he and the reviewer agree that “because the crimes of global ecocide are so ominous and so preventable,” in Barak’s words, “these crimes against Earth’s ecosystem should be of concern to all criminologists.”  

The Gang Paradox: Inequalities And Miracles On The U.S.-Mexico Border

Author: Robert J. Durán
Publisher: New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. 320p.
Reviewer: Jose Antonio Sanchez | November 2020

The Crimes Of Wildlife Trafficking: Issues Of Justice, Legality And Morality

Author: Ragnhild Aslaug Sollund
Publisher: London; New York: Routledge, 2019. 302p.
Reviewer: Rob White | November 2020

Running The Numbers: Race, Police, And The History Of Urban Gambling

Author: Matthew Vaz
Publisher: Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020. 197p.
Reviewer: Jay Albanese | November 2020

Marijuana Boom: The Rise And Fall Of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise

Author: Britto, Lina
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020. 352p.
Reviewers: Russell Crandall and Frederick Richardson | November 2020

Uncontrollable Blackness: African American Men And Criminality In Jim Crow New York

Author: Douglas Flowe
Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2020. 332p.
Reviewer: Jennifer Fronc | November 2020

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning Of An American City

Authors: Wes Moore with Erica L. Green
Publishers: New York: One World Books, 2020. 320p.
Reviewer: Matthew Crenson | November 2020

Murder And The Movies

Author: David Thomson
Publisher: New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020. 232p.
Reviewer: Lars Ole Sauerberg | November 2020

Prison By Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences Of Popular Reforms

Authors: Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law
Publisher: New York: The New Press, 2020. 320p.
Reviewer: Colleen P. Eren | November 2020

Crime In Japan: A Psychological Perspective

Authors: Laura Bui & David P. Farrington
Publisher: Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 246p.
Reviewer: Tom Ellis | November 2020 


Mental Health Homicide And Society: Understanding Health Care Governance

Author: David P. Horton
Publisher: Oxford, UK: Hart/Bloomsbury, 2019. 256p.
Reviewer: Peter Morrall | September 2020

The Dawning Of The Apocalypse: The Roots Of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, And Capitalism In The Long Sixteenth Century

Author: Gerald Horne
Publisher: New York: Monthly Review Press, 2020. 243p.
Reviewer: David Lyons | September 2020

Murder In The Garment District: The Grip Of Organized Crime And The Decline Of Labor In The United States

Authors: David Witwer and Catherine Rios
Publisher: New York: The New Press, 2020. 304p.
Reviewer: James Finckenauer | September 2020 

Sex And Stigma: Stories Of Everyday Life In Nevada’s Legal Brothels

Authors: Sarah Jane Blithe, Anna Wiederhold Wolfe, and Breanna Mohr
Publisher: New York: New York University Press, 2019. 320p.
Reviewer: Steven Block | September 2020

Ever wonder about what the life of a prostitute is like? Or what prostitutes might do in “retirement”? Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels by Sarah Jane Blithe, Anna Wiederhold Wolfe, and Breanna Mohr, published by NYU Press, will give you some answers to those questions. Reviewer Steven Block points out that what he calls “complicated questions” arise from the prostitute’s relationships with customers, with co-workers, and with the people in the worker’s personal life, such as family and friends. One of the strengths of the book, Block says, is that the authors show how these women are not the only examples of what are referred to as “dirty workers” — that is those who must find ways to manage their lives while working in hidden organizations.

Handbook Of Organised Crime And Politics

Editors: Felia Allum and Stan Gilmour
Publisher: Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019. 505p.
Reviewer: Jay Albanese | September 2020

“Does organized crime exploit politicians and the political system, or is it the other way around?” This question is posed by our reviewer Jay Albanese in his review of Felia Allum and Stan Gilmour’s latest examination of organized crime, Handbook of Organised Crime and Politics. In trying to answer that question, says Albanese, “studies and policies addressing organized crime cannot overlook the political environment in which they exist.” This, he concludes, is because although “history and culture play large roles … politics can either enhance or doom even the best efforts to reduce the influence of organized crime.” Allum and Gilmour’s book explores these issues in literally dozens of countries and regions around the world.

The Torture Machine: Racism And Police Violence In Chicago

Author: Flint Taylor
Publisher: Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019. 434p.
Reviewer: Bocar Ba | September 2020

This year – 2020 – is not only the year of a global pandemic that has killed people by the thousands, it is also a year bringing focus on the killing of black victims by the police in the United States. The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago by Flint Taylor, is a case study of the kind of police culture and police mentality that can account for how and why these police killings might be happening. Reviewer Bocar Ba writes “[f]rom 1972 to 1991, Chicago police officers—often, but not always, under the supervision of Commander Jon Burge—tortured and abused more than one hundred Black men in their custody in order to extract confessions. The tactics used ranged from mock executions and racialized psychological abuse, to beatings with telephone books, flashlights, batons, and baseball bats.” It is perhaps not a stretch to imagine that if this happens in the precinct, its apparent acceptance might help account for what can happen on the street.

Holding On: Family And Fatherhood During Incarceration And Reentry

Authors: Tasseli McKay, Megan Comfort, Christine Lindquist, Anupa Bir
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. 224p.
Reviewer: Anne M. Nurse | September 2020

One of the perhaps unanticipated consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic was its effect on jails and prisons. At a minimum these are often overcrowded institutions with relatively poor health care systems. Thus, one of the issues that has arisen is what to do with the inmates who might otherwise be subjected to a form of cruel and unusual punishment if they remain incarcerated. One of the answers, at least in some jurisdictions, is early release. Holding On: Family and Fatherhood during Incarceration and Reentry by Tasseli McKay, Megan Comfort, Christine Lindquist, and Anupa Bir describe some promising ways in which release and reentry can be successfully accomplished. Reviewer Anne Nurse describes the book as an invaluable resource for policymakers, prison administrators and academics interested in the complex ways that incarceration and reentry impact our nation’s families.

Justice In Plain Sight: How A Small-Town Newspaper And Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtrooms

Author: Dan Bernstein
Publisher: Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2019. 280p.
Reviewer: Clay Calvert | September 2020

Our reviewer Clay Calvert calls Justice in Plain Sight a well-written and meticulously researched book. Written by a journalist, Dan Bernstein, it tells the story behind two United States Supreme Court decisions from the 1980s that established the so-called Press-Enterprise test. This test “initially determines whether there is a presumptive right of access to attend a specific aspect or phase of a criminal proceeding.” The book sheds new light on the inner workings of the Supreme Court and of the Justices at that time, as they worked to define and interpret what the First Amendment and freedom of the press means in practice.

The Accusation: Blood Libel In An American Town

Author: Edward Berenson
Publisher: New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2019. 271p.
Reviewer: Mark W. Podvia | September 2020

Lest one think that conspiracy theories and dark rumors are unique to the present day, a new book by Edward Berenson, reviewed here by Mark W. Podvia, will surely disabuse you of that notion. The Accusation: Blood Libel in An American Town, tells a story of blood libel believed to be committed by Jews – in this case involving the alleged kidnapping, murder and bloodletting of a four-year old girl in Massena, New York in 1928. It turns out the girl was never kidnapped, but simply became lost near her home for less than a day. Notwithstanding the actual facts of the matter, much of the community and the authorities were willing to accept a conspiratorial explanation that resonated with a culture of anti- Semitism. Blood libel associated with anti-Semitism has, as the book points out, a history that extends back to the 12th century in Europe and Russia. It was also obviously alive and well in 1920s America.

Yesterday’s Monsters: The Manson Family Cases And The Illusion Of Parole

Author: Hadar Aviram
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020. 293p.
Reviewer: Dvir Yogev | September 2020

Criminology Explains Police Violence

Author: Philip M. Stinson, Sr.
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020. 204p.
Reviewer: Justin Nix | September 2020

Ending Gender-Based Violence: Justice And Community In South Africa

Author: Hannah Britton
Publisher: Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2020. 232p.
Reviewer: Priscilla Daniels | September 2020

Opium’s Long Shadow: From Asian Revolt To Global Drug Control

Author: Steffan Rimner
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018. 385p.
Reviewer: Stacie Kent | September 2020

American Islamophobia: Understanding The Roots And Rise Of Fear

Author: Khaled A. Beydoun
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018. 264p.
Reviewer: Stephen Sheehi | September 2020

King Of Con: How A Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made And Lost Billions, Baffled The FBI, Eluded The Mob And Lived To Tell The Crooked Tale

Authors: Thomas Giacomaro and Natasha Stoynoff
Publisher: Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, 2018. 305p.
Reviewer: Frederick T. Martens | September 2020

Politics And Violence In Central America And The Caribbean

Author: Hannes Warnecke-Berger
Publisher: Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 221p.
Reviewer: David Carey Jr. | September 2020

After Homicide: Victims’ Family In The Criminal Justice System

Author: Sarah Goodrum
Publisher: Boulder, CA: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020. 217 p.
Reviewer: Sam Bieler | September 2020

Breaking The Cycle Of Mass Atrocities: Criminological And Socio-Legal Approaches In International Criminal Law

Editors: Marina Aksenova, Elies van Sliedregt and Stephan Parmentier.
Publisher: London: Hart/Bloomsbury Publishing: 2019. 268p.
Reviewer: Lynn Rapaport | September 2020

Crime Without Punishment: Aspects Of The History Of Homicide

Author: Lawrence M. Friedman
Publisher: Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 155p.
Reviewer: Guyora Binder | September 2020

Transnational Organized Crime In Latin America And The Caribbean: From Evolving Threats And Responses To Integrated, Adaptive Solutions

Author: R. Evan Ellis
Publisher: Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2018. 236p.
Reviewer: Frederick T. Martens | September 2020


Gun Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches To Politics, Policy, And Practice

Editors: Jennifer Carlson, Kristen A. Goss, & Harel Shapira
Publisher: London; New York: Routledge, 2019. 356p.
Reviewer: Joshua D. Behl │ July 2020

Guns, shootings and gun control are perennial and controversial topics in the U.S.  In Gun Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Politics, Policy, and Practice, editorsJennifer Carlson, et. al. bring together an interdisciplinary collaboration of authors from various subject matter fields that have some relationship to guns.  These include Criminology, Marketing, Political Science, Law, and Sociology.  Reviewer Joshua Behl concludes that the book does a good job of providing a wide overview from this variety of disciplines, although it is, in his judgment, “long on theory but short on data.”  The book is, nevertheless, “ripe with research questions for those who are interested in the study of guns.”

The Districts: Stories Of American Justice From The Federal Courts

Author: Johnny Dwyer
Publisher: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019. 368p.
Reviewer: Jack E. Call │ July 2020

This book, written by journalist Johnny Dwyer, tells stories about how people caught up in the federal criminal justice system are affected by the experience. Its stories focus on prosecutions of organized crime, drug offenses, white collar crime, terrorism, and public corruption. All the cases come from the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan), where prosecutors are viewed as among the most powerful and prestigious prosecutors in the country. Reviewer Jack Call gives examples of the stories that the book contains and concludes that the book “is well-written and tells engaging stories. Nevertheless, it has its flaws.” For example, while Dwyer “succeeds admirably in his description of how persons accused of federal crimes are impacted by that experience; he is less successful in explaining how the people who work in the federal courts are impacted.” The detail in the stories, however, provides a useful window into what federal criminal prosecutions look like.

Life And Death In Rikers Island

Author: Homer Venters
Publisher: Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press 2019. 188p.
Reviewer: Judith A. Ryder │ July 2020

Among the more vulnerable populations in the current virus pandemic are the inmates (and staff) in jails and prisons.  In what can only be termed a most prescient and timely analysis of the health issues presented by mass incarceration, Dr. Homer Venters, MD describes his experiences as the chief health officer responsible for, among other things, overseeing New York City’s notorious Rikers Island prison complex.  Our reviewer, Judith Ryder, offers this observation of Life and Death in Rikers Island: “This book is about Rikers, and is in many ways a New York-specific story.  Yet, by detailing the dysfunctional health system of one particular jail, Venters reveals the human rights concerns of mass incarceration in the United States and speaks to the difficulties and precariousness of providing decent health care in jails and prisons everywhere.”

Let The People See: The Story Of Emmett Till

Author: Elliot J. Gorn
Publisher: New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. 392p.
Reviewer: Michael J. Pfeifer │ July 2020

The murder of 14-year old Emmet Till by white racists in Mississippi in 1955 stands as one of the more despicable acts in the history of race relations in the United States.  Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till, by Elliot J. Gorn, is one of several important recent books about that case.  Reviewer Michael J. Pfeifer says about what he calls this well-written monograph, “[w]hat is most valuable about Gorn’s book about the life, death, and legacy of the Chicago fourteen-year-old …is its comprehensive approach, and its melding of an accessible narrative with an analytical approach.”

Anatomy Of A False Confession: The Interrogation And Conviction Of Brendan Dassey

Author: Michael D. Cicchini
Publisher: Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 248p.
Reviewer: William Douglas Woody │ July 2020

Those who are familiar with the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, will know about Brendan Dassey, the sixteen-year-old with a cognitive disability who is prominently featured in the series. Attorney Michael D. Cicchini has crafted what our reviewer, William Douglas Woody, calls “a strong and detailed legal review of the interrogation and confession” of Dassey. Cicchini’s book, Anatomy of a False Confession: The Interrogation and Conviction of Brendan Dassey, concludes that the manner in which the Dassey case has been handled constitutes “one of the greatest injustices in the history of American criminal law.”

Comparative Policing From A Legal Perspective

Editor: Monica den Boer
Publisher: Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018. 473p.
Reviewer: Peter Neyroud │ July 2020

Yet another topic very much in the headlines at the moment is policing and the role of the police in society – what is it, and what should it be? Given this spotlighted attention, it may be helpful to step back and perhaps take a longer view, and to think about what is happening with policing in other countries and societies. This is what Monica den Boer’s edited book, Comparative Policing from a Legal perspective, is intended to do. As just one example of the timeliness of this discussion, reviewer Peter Neyroud points to the book’s chapters on training, research and leadership. He says the authors “make an important observation that traditional patterns of recruitment and training are ill adapted to prepare new officers for the new challenges of policing in the 21st century.” Among the needs of recruitment is to attract individuals who have the “legal and professional education to perform the role well.” Seems like a good idea!

Prison Truth: The Story Of The San Quentin News

Author: William J. Drummond
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020 344p.
Reviewer: Juan Haines │ July 2020

The Smugglers’ World: Illicit Trade And Atlantic Communities In Eighteenth-Century Venezuela

Author: Jesse Cromwell
Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2018. 336p.
Reviewer: David Head │ July 2020

Lethal State: A History Of The Death Penalty In North Carolina

Author: Seth Kotch
Publisher: Chapel, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. 320p.
Reviewer: Brandon L. Garrett | July 2020

Violent Minds: Modernism And The Criminal

Author: Matthew Levay
Publisher: Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 248p.
Reviewer: Lars Ole Sauerberg │ July 2020

Alice In Pornoland: Hardcore Encounters With The Victorian Gothic

Author: Laura Helen Marks
Publisher: Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2018. 232p.
Reviewer: Lisa Z. Sigel │ July 2020

Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, And The Intimacies Of The State

Author: Kerwin Kaye
Publisher: New York: Columbia University Press, 2020. 346p.
Reviewer: Sam Bieler | July 2020

Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, And Sexual Assault: Challenging The Myths

Authors: Corina Schulze, Sarah Koon-Magnin, and Valerie Bryan
Publisher: Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2019. 235p.
Reviewer: Lauren Fifield Bellamy | July 2020

International Perspectives On Cyberbullying: Prevalence, Risk Factors And Interventions

Editors: Anna Costanza Baldry, Catherine Blaya and David P. Farrington
Publisher: London; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 348p.
Reviewer: Masa Popovac │ July 2020

Disrupt, Discredit, And Divide: How The New FBI Damages Democracy

Author: Mike German
Publisher: New York: The New Press, 2019. 352p.
Reviewer: Tung Yin | July 2020

A Handbook Of Food Crime: Immoral And Illegal Practices In The Food Industry And What To Do About Them

Editors: Allison Gray and Ronald Hinch
Publisher: Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 2018. 384p.
Reviewers: Jon Davies and Nicholas Lord │ July 2020


Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills And Fast Cars Made North Carolina The Moonshine Capital Of The World

Author: Daniel S. Pierce
Publisher: Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,  2019. 312p.
Reviewer: Brian F. Haara | March 2020

Getting Wrecked: Women, Incarceration, And The American Opioid Crisis

Author: Kimberly Sue
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. 264p.
Reviewer: Susan Starr Sered | March 2020

Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power Across Neoliberal America

Author: Brett Story
Publisher: Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 219 p.
Reviewer: Doris Schartmueller | March 2020

Mass incarceration has moved, in recent years, to the forefront of criminal justice problems needing reform.  This focus makes Brett Story’s Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America especially timely.  Reviewer Doris Schartmueller says Story expands one’s view of prisons from being simply isolated institutions that incarcerate and hide away the criminally convicted, to one that looks much more broadly at society at large — a society that, Story believes, is permeated by systems of punishment.  The key question being addressed in this book is whether the so-called reforms have truly dismantled the punitive state or have they merely redesigned it?

Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime And Punishment In The United States

Author: Tony Platt
Publisher: New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2018. 372 p.
Reviewer: Sam Bieler | March 2020

Tony Platt, long time scholar of race, inequality and social justice in American history, takes a new look at contemporary criminal justice in America in his book, Beyond These Walls: Rethinking Crime and Punishment in the United States.  It is reviewed for us by Sam Bieler.  Bieler concludes that Platt delivers on the book’s first promise to provide “an ambitious and far-ranging” review of abuses in the U.S. justice system. On the second promise, however, which is to provide a “bold” and “strategic” vision on how to remake what Platt calls a brutally flawed system, Bieler sees a stumble – just a quick list of ideas rather than a bold new vision.   Nevertheless, the reviewer concludes that Beyond These Walls offers an excellent history and genealogy even though it “falls short as a radical reform manifesto.”

Mafia Raj: The Rule Of Bosses In South Asia

Authors: Lucia Michelutti; Ashraf Hoque; Nicolas Martin; David Picherit; Paul Rollier; Arild Engelsen Ruud; Clarinda Still
Publisher: Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018. 352p.
Reviewer: James Windle | March 2020

Ethnographic research into organized crime is quite rare.  This is so because not only is it difficult, but it can be dangerous.  Thus, as our reviewer James Windle points out, “most any ethnography of organised crime deserves to be read, reviewed and respected.” Mafia Raj: The Rule of Bosses in South Asia, by Lucia Michelutti and six co-authors, falls into that category.  Mafia Raj, meaning rule by the mafia, is a collection of seven individual ethnographic studies that addresses three questions about organized crime bosses:  how do they command, what do they actually do, and in what contexts do they operate.  Windle calls this book a fascinating joy to read.

Beyond Punishment?: A Normative Account Of The Collateral Legal Consequences Of Convictions

Author: Zachary Hoskins
Publisher: Oxford, UK; New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 264p.
Reviewer: Ambrose Y.K. Lee | March 2020

Beyond Punishment? by Zachary Hoskins is reviewed by Ambrose Y. K. Lee.  The book’s focus is on the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and, in the reviewer’s words “whether the imposition of formal legal collateral consequences can be morally justifiable, and if so, under what conditions.” Lee says that Hoskins’ book is “the most comprehensive and systematic attempt at tackling this philosophical question head on” of which he is aware.  Although it addresses a philosophical question, it is, according to the reviewer, written with a wider audience in mind.

The Justice Of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia And The Politics Of Disruption

Author: Richard L. Hasen
Publisher: New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018. 248p.
Reviewer: Jack E. Call | March 2020

Antonin Scalia is generally regarded as one of the most influential U.S. Supreme Court justices of his generation.  In The Justice of Contradictions:  Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, Richard L. Hasen examines Scalia’s judicial efforts in three substantive areas:  the so-called culture wars; cases bearing on democracy, such as campaign financing; and, cases in criminal law.  Hasen considers these efforts through the lens of Scalia’s judicial philosophy of textualism and originalism.  Our reviewer, Jack Call, concludes that only time will tell whether Scalia will be the justice who is considered to have had the greatest influence on future law.

Capital Defense: Inside The Lives Of America’s Death Penalty Lawyers

Authors: Jon B. Gould and Magna Pagni Barak
Publisher: New York: New York University Press, 2019. 304p.
Reviewer: David R. Dow | March 2020

What is it that drives someone to be and remain a death penalty lawyer? What kind of moral commitment, temperament, and stamina make it possible to endure the long hours, grim case outcome, and emotional toll that DP lawyers regularly endure while others might give up, and what kind of toll does it take on their mental and physical health? In researching their new book, John Gould and Magna Barak spoke to some sixty DP lawyers to try to answer these questions. Our reviewer, David Dow, found their work "worthwhile and well-written," though he takes issue with some of their methodology.

The Color Of The Third Degree: Racism, Police Torture And Civil Rights In The American South, 1930-1955

Author: Silvan Niedermeier, translated by Paul Cohen
Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019. Originally published 2014. 224p.
Reviewer: Nicholas W. Mason | March 2020

A Thousand Thirsty Beaches: Smuggling Alcohol From Cuba To The South During Prohibition

Author: Lisa Lindquist Dorr
Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2018. 312p.
Reviewer: Andrae Marak | March 2020

Vice, Crime, And Poverty: How The Western Imagination Invented The Underworld

Author: Dominique Kalifa. Trans. Susan Emanuel.
Publisher: New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 478p.
Reviewer: David Pike | March 2020

The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water And The American Urban Tragedy

Author: Anna Clark
Publisher: New York: Metropolitan Books, 2018, Afterword 2019. 320p.
Reviewer: Toni M. Massaro | March 2020

Charged: The New Movement To Transform American Prosecution And End Mass Incarceration

Author: Emily Bazelon
Publisher: New York: Random House, 2019. 448p.
Reviewer: Naomi F. Sugie | March 2020

Visas And Walls: Border Security In The Age Of Terrorism

Author: Nazli Avdan
Publisher: Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. 256p.
Reviewer: George Gavrilis | March 2020

Beyond Cages: Animal Law And Criminal Punishment

Author: J. Marceau
Publisher: Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 293p.
Reviewer: Margo DeMello | March 2020

The Three Pillars Of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, And Networks

Authors: Arie Kruglanski, Jocelyn Bélanger and Rohan Gunaratna
Publisher: Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2019. 258p.
Reviewer: Matthew Valasik | March 2020

Exceptional America: What Divides Americans From The World And From Each Other

Author: Mugambi Jouet
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017. 376p.
Reviewer: Jasper M. Trautsch | March 2020

Beyond Blurred Lines: Rape Culture In Popular Media

Author: Nickie D. Phillips
Publisher: Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 306p.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Twitty | March 2020

Policing Life And Death: The Perverse Consequences Of An Iron Fist Policy Against Crime

Author: Marisol LeBrón
Publisher: Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. 319p.
Reviewer: José Caraballo-Cueto | March 2020

Coming Back To Jail: Women, Trauma And Criminalization

Author: Elizabeth Comack
Publisher: Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing, 2018. 272p.
Reviewers: Amy Sheppard & Rosemary Ricciardelli | March 2020

Justice, Mercy, And Caprice: Clemency And The Death Penalty In Ireland

Author: Ian O’Donnell
Publisher: Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2017. 320p.
Reviewer: Muzzaker Mathias | March 2020

Courting The Community: Legitimacy And Punishment In A Community Court

Author: Christine Zozula
Publisher: Philadelphia, PA; Temple University Press, 2019 184p.
Reviewer: Tyrell A. Connor | March 2020

Does Torture Work?

Author: John W. Schiemann
Publisher: Oxford, UK; New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 316p.
Reviewer: Monica Solinas-Saunders | March 2020

The Psychology Of False Confessions: Forty Years Of Science And Practice

Author: Gisli H. Gudjonsson
Publisher: Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2018. 552p.
Reviewer: Melanie Clark Mogavero | March 2020

The Toughest Gun Control Law In The Nation: The Unfulfilled Promise Of New York’s Safe Act

Authors: James B. Jacobs and Zoe Fuhr
Publisher: New York, NY: New York University Press, 2019. 258p.
Reviewer: Robert J. Spitzer | March 2020

Mafia Life: Love, Death, and Money at the Heart of Organized Crime

Author: Frederico Varese
Publisher: New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. 279p.
Reviewer: Jay S. Albanese | March 2020

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