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October 26, 2011

Another notable review of "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice"

In this post a few days ago, I blogged about former SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens' review the final book written Professor Bill Stuntz, titled "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice."  I am pleased now to link to another review by another notable former jurist, Paul Cassell, this one appearing in the Wall Street Journal.  This review carries the headlined "Crimes, Courts And Cures: Why the justice system does a bad job of separating defendants who deserve punishment from those who don't."  The whole review is a must-read, and these final insights close the piece:

"The Collapse of American Criminal Justice" concludes that our system suffers "from the rule of too much law and the wrong kind of politics."  Mr. Stuntz recommends a host of reforms, including decentralization that would encourage local control responsive to local crime. He also argues for expanding city police forces — because the increased police presence would discourage the commission of crimes.

But he seems to back away from his argument that excessive proceduralism is part of the problem.  While critiquing decisions such as Mapp and Miranda, Mr. Stuntz never urges that they be overturned or restructured, even though such changes could lead to the decentralized decision-making that he supports.  Instead, he singles out for overruling Supreme Court precedents limiting equal-protection argument by defendants.  He targets United States v. Armstrong, for example, which barred drug dealers from arguing that prosecutors must be racially discriminating when statistics indicate disparities in charges being brought.  But overturning the law would lead to precisely the kind of procedural litigation that Mr. Stuntz deplores.

Nonetheless, the overarching themes of "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice" deserve wide discussion, and the book as a whole can be rightly seen as the capstone to a distinguished legal career.  Americans may debate whether our criminal-justice system has truly collapsed, but few would argue that it can't be improved.

October 26, 2011 at 05:18 PM | Permalink


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I haven't got this from amazon.com yet, so won't comment on it, in sound bites or otherwise, but given the reviews, a notable book from the local perspective is L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City. Although an historical account, it reads like a compelling crime novel about the struggle for the control of L.A. between Mickey Cohen and Chief Parker. What is fascinating is Chief Parker's effective use of propaganda in light to the same propaganda popular today. Perhaps this book should be required companion reading to The Collapse of American Criminal Justice.

Posted by: George | Oct 26, 2011 7:40:21 PM

yes you are rigth, because of bad politics our system suffer alot. nice article. good one

Posted by: rogwilsmith | Nov 1, 2011 6:11:49 AM

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