Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System

Farrar. Feb. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9780374289997. $27. LAW
Senior U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York Rakoff explores faults of the American criminal justice system. He explains how mandatory minimum sentencing, prosecutorial reliance on plea bargaining, and misguided legislation have hamstrung the judiciary with the inability to positively influence the very system in which it lives. Having served on the National Commission on Forensic Service, Rakoff offers possible solutions, both political and judicial, and a unique perspective on problematic forensic evidence. The book tends to be repetitive and it loses focus at times, likely because each chapter was once a stand-alone essay previously published in the New York Review of Books. The latter half of the work is dedicated to complex constitutional issues, and the main thesis of judicial failure to ensure justice served for both the innocent and the guilty is lost.
VERDICT With some weaknesses in the writing yet with important insights into the future of the justice system, this title is best suited for academic and law libraries and public libraries with a devoted criminal justice or legal readership rather than a general audience.
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