Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood

Writers’ Pr. Nov. 2020. 144p. ISBN 9781732425521. $19. CRIME
In 2017, Sigel (The Disappearance) served as a juror in New York City in the case of Abraham Cucuta, who was charged with murdering Manuel Sabater and Joshua Agard 10 years earlier. The author focuses not on the crime but rather on the societal inequities that brought the accused and the witnesses testifying against him (one of whom faced charges in a separate trial) to the courtroom. Sigel is at his best when he examines his own privilege and circumstances in contrast to the conditions in which Cucuta grew up. Unfortunately, the author doesn’t devote much space to this angle, instead examining the impoverished East Harlem projects where the crime took place and considering high-performing “majority minority” schools—a band-aid solution to deep-rooted issues of injustice. He explores only briefly the historic and systemic reasons why those from marginalized communities may lack the incentive to work with the police, and he relies on interviews with various community-based officers without much corollary input from residents.
VERDICT Social inequalities and their effects on the criminal justice system are issues worthy of discussion; however, this title, which proposes largely microlevel solutions to systemic problems, adds little to the conversation.
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