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Race, Crime, and the Law [Paperback]

by Randall Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 31, 1998 0375701842 978-0375701849 Reprint
Winner of the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Grand Prize


"An original, wise and courageous work that moves beyond sterile arguments and lifts the discussion of race and justice to a new and more hopeful level."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
In this groundbreaking, powerfully reasoned, lucid work that is certain to provoke controversy, Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy takes on a highly complex issue in a way that no one has before. Kennedy uncovers the long-standing failure of the justice system to protect blacks from criminals, probing allegations that blacks are victimized on a widespread basis by racially discriminatory prosecutions and punishments, but he also engages the debate over the wisdom and legality of using racial criteria in jury selection. He analyzes the responses of the legal system to accusations that appeals to racial prejudice have rendered trials unfair, and examines the idea that, under certain circumstances, members of one race are statistically more likely to be involved in crime than members of another.



"An admirable, courageous, and meticulously fair and honest book."--New York Times Book Review


"This book should be a standard for all law students."--Boston Globe

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's no question that nowadays, racial issues pose one of the biggest obstacles to the fair workings of our criminal justice system, but exactly how these issues come into play and what to do about them is a subtler matter. In this book, Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor who is black, applies his precise command of the relevant legal language and legal background to explain and evaluate for the general reader various current ideas about how race is and should be involved in meting out criminal justice. His basic stance is that liberals and conservatives have more common ground on race and law than it seems at first, and that blacks have suffered more from being underprotected by law enforcement than from being mistreated as suspects or defendants, even though it is the latter allegation that seems to draw the most attention from those who view the courts through racial lenses. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Kennedy (law, Harvard) has penned a balanced historical analysis of the state of race relations in the administration of criminal justice. He forcefully argues that many characteristics of the justice system, such as police surveillance, jury selection, and capital sentencing, perpetuate racial bias against African Americans. To eradicate this racism requires that judges, lawyers, and police deal honestly with America's history of racism. In illustrating this point, Kennedy unearths mountains of evidence testifying to America's brutally racist past, focusing on the slave codes, lynchings, and rape as a means to enforce a rigid racial hierarchy. Therefore, this text seems to work better as a history book?an excellent one at that?than as a prescription for the social ills of our current legal system. Academic and large public libraries should consider.?Steven Anderson, Baltimore Cty. Circuit Court Law Lib., Towson, Md.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375701842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701849
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book! April 29, 2000
Format:Paperback
As a graduate student in criminal justice - I find it enjoyable to read subjects that directly impact my course of studies and my profession. Race, Crime and the Law is one of the few books that I would STRONGLY recommend to every criminal justice, sociology and law student. In fact, I would recommend this book to anyone concerned with the current state of race relations within the United States. Kennedy's style and in your face writing is powerful and persuasive. This book is not written in the typical, arrogant style of many professors. Instead Kennedy writes this book for the masses.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You must read this book June 12, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
There is a reason why Kennedy's book has become a "must read" among law professors. Kennedy's impeccable personal and academic credentials bring terrific power to his very original work. The most remarkable part: Kennedy's arguments are principled and balanced. No one will (or should) be able to write about these issues again without having to grapple with Kennedy's arguments.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By dqc
Format:Paperback
1st & foremost, this is the BEST book i've read in a long time. Kennedy acheives what Gates & West do NOT ... an intelligent discourse on important issues currently facing racial minorities that is rooted in fact. he offers facts & precedent to support his opinions, views & hypothesis ... as opposed to rhetoric supported by rhetoric.
the book dissects the historical perversion of criminal justice/law enforcement to perpetuate the oppression of racial minorites. then it uses this historical context/premise to draw a picture of the current state of the relationship/role of the criminal justice system & law enforcement in minority communities. The book has brilliant sections on racial profiling, the war on drugs and the death penalty. each of these issues are dissected from a viewpoint of the critical legal issues ... and Kennedy finds time to interject his own opinion, SUPPORTED BY FACTS. Kennedy presents his material in a logical & organized mannner ... but not always concise. although i'm not a lawyer, it felt very much like a legal brief at times ... but it was still easy to read.
... highly, highly recommended, although it is a bit thick.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Work that delves deeply into the topic May 20, 2003
Format:Paperback
This lucid work of kennedy's is a comprehensive and beautifully written examination of race and its ralation to the criminal justice system and the law. Kennedy's arguments are superb, and he supports everything that he says with hard evidence, leaving his sound biases and premises the only things left to be considered. Kennedy is, even in this last matter, careful to make this book an exploration rather than a persuasion, and while he does make arguements and try to persuade the reader, he does not condemn his opposition and he certainly does not limit the scope of his thinking in any way possibly detrimental to the flow of ideas.
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