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Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration Hardcover – April 9, 2019
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“[Charged] achieves what in-depth first-person reporting should: it humanizes the statistics, makes us aware that every courtroom involves the bureaucratic regimentation of an individual’s life.”— The New Yorker
“Bazelon tells the tales of Noura and Kevin in rich, novelistic prose, which at its best puts one in mind of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s book Random Family. . . . This combination of powerful reporting with painstaking research yields a comprehensive examination of the modern American criminal justice system that appeals to both the head and the heart.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An important, thoughtful, and thorough examination of criminal justice in America that speaks directly to how we reduce mass incarceration and increase fairness . . . comprehensive and beautifully written, a book every policy maker should read.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy
“This book made me feel better. Hopeful, even! Because Emily Bazelon, cogent and clear-eyed as ever, lays out a welcome double-barreled argument: A prosecutorial shift toward mercy and fairness is crucial to healing our busted criminal justice system, and it’s already happening. What’s that, you say? You want step-by-step instructions for how to reform your local prosecutor’s office? No sweat: Charged has that, too. Just skip to the end.”—Sarah Koenig, host of Serial
“In this deeply researched, elegantly told book, Emily Bazelon reveals how unchecked prosecutorial power has damaged the American justice system. Charged shows that our courts are not level playing fields. Rather, accused citizens, defense attorneys, and even judges are at the mercy of prosecutors who have used their influence to drive the prison boom. This harrowing, often enraging book is a hopeful one, as well, profiling innovative new approaches and the frontline advocates who champion them. This is a necessary read for those who care about inequality, the law, and the future of American justice.”—Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted
“An insightful, highly readable examination of local prosecutors—who they are, what they do, and how they do it . . . At a moment when electing progressive prosecutors has become a cornerstone of the movement against mass incarceration, this book offers reasons for both caution and hope.”—James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Locking Up Our Own
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Hardcover : 448 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399590016
- Product dimensions : 6.38 x 1.41 x 9.53 inches
- Publisher : Random House; First Edition (April 9, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #157,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Emily Bazelon shines a light on issues of judicial justice in a way I’ve never experienced before. Clear and personal. I’ll never think about the issues of diversion, plea bargaining and setting bails the same way again. Nor the importance of the values and commitment of prosecutors and the role of judges and courts as well.
I’m impressed by the trust which Bazelon created with so many principals in the story. That's one of the reasons why I was so engaged as a reader.
The book highlights heroes while not sparing those whose conduct was terribly wrong.
Bazelon's concept of linking individual personal stories together with broad perspectives on the legal issues and the value of linking judicial reforms with lower incarcerations and reduced recidivism works well and kept me deeply engaged.
The appendix is a gold mine of practical actions, backed up by examples of where they’re working.
I believe this book should be in the hands of every mayor and governor and DA and judge in this nation.
I hope it becomes required reading in law schools across the country.
At the very end of the final chapter, Bazelon writes: “As a journalist, I have never felt a greater sense of urgency about exposing the roots of a problem and shining a light on the people working to solve it. I feel a great sense of possibility. We have to fix the broken parts of America’s criminal justice system. And we the people have the power to do it with our votes.”
I can say that this book eloquently conveys Bazelon's sense of urgency as well as her sense of possibility. This book deserves broad readership.
I’m also a ecology grad student and still found this book absolutely gripping, often taking time away from research papers I *should* be reading instead. I blame Bazelon for my lack of progress in finishing my dissertation.
The author chose two cases to focus on: one involving a weapons charge and the other a murder. As the author follows the two cases, the many faults and disparities of our broken criminal justice system are laid bare.
Bazelon's book carefully examines all aspects of our current justice system. She rightfully focuses on the role of the prosecutor. If you want to reduce mass incarceration, reform needs to start here. Most people think that prosecutors are fair and balanced. They protect the public from criminals and only seek out appropriate sentences. The truth is far from this idealized notion. Prosecutors have almost unlimited power. To reduce the high costs of trials, they offer plea deals. They threaten those who refuse plea deals with additional charges and lengthy prison sentences. For those who do go to trial, they soon learn that they are at a distinct disadvantage. There are thousands of people in prison right now who are serving unjust sentences simply because a prosecutor decided to teach them a lesson.
From a narrative standpoint, the book falls short. Besides jumping from one case to the other, the author interweaves anecdotes and case files to help explain the point she is trying to make. For example, when she gets to the topic of bail for the murder suspect, she spends the next fifty pages discussing the many problems associated with the way high bail demands leads to mass incarceration. These are important topics to cover, but the many tangents lead to a disjointed narrative.
There's no question that this book is required reading for anyone involved in criminal justice. The two cases, however, that the author chose to highlight were not well suited for the intended purpose.