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Prisoners of Politics

Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration

«Barkow’s analysis suggests that it is not enough to slash police budgets if we want to ensure lasting reform. We also need to find ways to insulate the process from political winds. She urges that we entrust more criminal justice policy to experts, who overwhelmingly agree that the system is too harsh and too bloated. We don’t leave the regulation of air pollution or workplace conditions to a popular vote, she argues, so why should we do so with respect to public safety?»

David Cole, New York Review of Books

America's criminal justice policy reflects irrational fears stoked by politicians seeking to win election. A preeminent legal scholar argues that reform guided by evidence, not politics and emotions, will reduce crime and reverse mass incarceration. Les mer

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America's criminal justice policy reflects irrational fears stoked by politicians seeking to win election. A preeminent legal scholar argues that reform guided by evidence, not politics and emotions, will reduce crime and reverse mass incarceration.

The United States has the world's highest rate of incarceration, a form of punishment that ruins lives and makes a return to prison more likely. As awful as that truth is for individuals and their families, its social consequences-recycling offenders through an overwhelmed criminal justice system, ever-mounting costs, unequal treatment before the law, and a growing class of permanently criminalized citizens-are even more devastating. With the authority of a prominent legal scholar and the practical insights gained through on-the-ground work on criminal justice reform, Rachel Barkow explains how dangerous it is to base criminal justice policy on the whims of the electorate, which puts judges, sheriffs, and politicians in office. Instead, she argues for an institutional shift toward data and expertise, following the model used to set food and workplace safety rules.

Barkow's prescriptions are rooted in a thorough and refreshingly ideology-free cost-benefit analysis of how to cut mass incarceration while maintaining public safety. She points to specific policies that are deeply problematic on moral grounds and have failed to end the cycle of recidivism. Her concrete proposals draw on the best empirical information available to prevent crime and improve the reentry of former prisoners into society.

Prisoners of Politics aims to free criminal justice policy from the political arena, where it has repeatedly fallen prey to irrational fears and personal interest, and demonstrates that a few simple changes could make us all safer.

Detaljer

Forlag
The Belknap Press
Innbinding
Innbundet
Språk
Engelsk
ISBN
9780674919235
Utgivelsesår
2019
Format
24 x 16 cm

Anmeldelser

«Barkow’s analysis suggests that it is not enough to slash police budgets if we want to ensure lasting reform. We also need to find ways to insulate the process from political winds. She urges that we entrust more criminal justice policy to experts, who overwhelmingly agree that the system is too harsh and too bloated. We don’t leave the regulation of air pollution or workplace conditions to a popular vote, she argues, so why should we do so with respect to public safety?»

David Cole, New York Review of Books

«Making criminal law more reasonable is a stiff challenge in this era of fear-mongering politics. The challenge is even stiffer with the fear-mongering tied to fact-mocking. The spotlight Barkow shines on the facts and their implications will surely stir denial, but if the country does not meet the challenge, all of us will be less safe.»

Lincoln Caplan, American Scholar

«[An] important new book.»

James Forman, Jr., New York Times

«Excellent analysis… Barkow argues for a multifaceted approach to reform… Readers interested in criminal justice reform will find much to appreciate here.»

Publishers Weekly

«[A] crisply written, thorough book…Barkow paints a damning picture…laying out the voluminous evidence that mass incarceration is cruel and self-defeating…[She] convincingly shows that it has not made the American public safer.»

Seth Mayer, Public Books

«It is impossible to think about America’s harsh punishment epidemic without understanding the politics of fear and anger that created mass incarceration. Rachel Barkow’s new work is a critically important exploration of the political dynamics that have made us one of the most punitive societies in human history. A must-read by one of our most thoughtful scholars of crime and punishment.»

Bryan Stevenson, author of <i>Just Mercy</i> and founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice

«An invaluable resource for those studying or addressing mass incarceration and/or wrongful convictions.»

Choice

«[An] extremely efficient guide to our current problems…[A] rich but pointed survey of the maladies in our criminal justice system.»

Jonathan Simon, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

«Rachel Barkow powerfully argues that the only way to end mass incarceration is to transform how criminal law is made. Instead of fear-driven anecdotes and popular politics, we need law based on reliable data, expert agencies, constrained prosecutors, and judges who were once public defenders. If you care, as I do, about disrupting the perverse politics of criminal justice, there is no better place to start than Prisoners of Politics

James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize–winning author of <i>Locking Up Our Own</i>

«Rachel Barkow provides a damning catalog of how penal populism has managed to make our criminal justice system too bloated, too expensive, and too cruel, while also failing to keep us safe. More importantly, she provides a road map to a saner and more humane system—a system built on facts, not on rhetoric and fear. The more people that read this book, the better.»

David Alan Sklansky, author of <i>Democracy and the Police</i>

«Rachel Barkow is one of the country’s smartest thinkers on criminal justice. In her new book, she makes a cogent and provocative argument about how to achieve true institutional reform and fix our broken system.»

Emily Bazelon, author of <i>Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass

«Populist policymaking in an era of partisan politics and media frenzy is irrational and destructive—and never more so than in the realm of criminal justice. In her tremendously timely and important intervention, Barkow, a renowned expert in sentencing policy, calls for a major shift from populism to expertise, from emotion-based to evidence-based criminal justice policy.»

Carol S. Steiker, coauthor of <i>Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment</i>

«Prisoners of Politics is an urgent appeal for a new and more regulatory approach to criminal justice policymaking. In a passionately argued book, Rachel Barkow documents the costly irrationalities that flow from populist policies, explains the skewed incentive structure that underlies them, and makes a compelling case for institutional reforms designed to ensure rational, cost-effective policy, robust constitutional checks, and a justice system oriented towards equitable public safety rather than mass incarceration. These are vital ideas, well established in other areas of modern governance, with a powerful relevance for criminal justice today.»

David Garland, author of <i>Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition</i>

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