- Series: Encounter Broadsides
- Hardcover: 325 pages
- Publisher: Encounter Books; First American Edition edition (September 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594032556
- ISBN-13: 978-1594032554
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 116 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (Encounter Broadsides) First American Edition Edition
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In 8 chapters organized by professions, Siverglate presents cases where prosecutors stretch the law beyond imagination, often to further personal goals, cheered by the press and helped by often hapless juries. He makes it quite clear that nobody that becomes a target of such a prosecution has much of chance to to come away unscathed no matter how innocent they may think they are or how ridiculous the accusation might seem. Some may finally be found not guilty, but by the time they get there, their lives will be destroyed.
Silverglate identifies a number of factors that contribute to this situation, in particular the vagueness of many federal laws, like wire/mail fraud and obstruction of justice, and the ability of prosecutors to "climb the ladder" by threatening people into testifying against others ("singing and composing").
Among the cases some have been widely covered in the media (like Martha Stuart and Arthur Anderson). Silverglate provides a different perspective and lots of details that were often missing in the media coverage.
On the critical side, I found that the book was not particularly well written. The foreword and introduction seem extreme and give me the impression they were written by the publisher to increase sales. The main text is focused too much on the individual cases which makes it occasionally seem a bit repetitive. Sometimes the presentation is a bit one-sided. For example his claim that the Martha Stuart obstruction of justice verdict was the result of a trap set up by the prosecutors does not seem convincing to me.
Also, I would have liked to see the general themes of the book developed in a more systematic way. What fraction of federal prosecutions are fishy like the examples presented in the book? Who is most likely to be targeted? What changes of law or institutions seem most likely to fix the problems?
I give the book 4 stars nevertheless because I see it as a very relevant and timely contribution to an important topic.