The Collapse of American Criminal Justice

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice

by William J. Stuntz
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674051750

ISBN-13: 9780674051751

Pub. Date: 09/30/2011

Publisher: Harvard

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

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674051751
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
09/30/2011
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
593,313
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Rule of Too Much Law 1

I Crime and Punishment 13

1 Two Migrations 15

2 "The Wolf by the Ear" 41

II The Past 61

3 Ideals and Institutions 63

4 The Fourteenth Amendment's Failed Promise 99

5 Criminal Justice in the Gilded Age 129

6 A Culture War and Its Aftermath 158

7 Constitutional Law's Rise: Three Roads Not Taken 196

8 Earl Warren's Errors 216

9 The Rise and Fall of Crime, the Fall and Rise of Criminal Punishment 244

III The Future 283

10 Fixing a Broken System 285

Epilogue: Taming the Wolf 310

Note on Sources and Citation Form 315

Notes 317

Acknowledgments 395

Index 399

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