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Book Reviews: The Collapse of American Criminal Justice
By Timothy Zindel
Book Reviews columns.
The Collapse of American Criminal Justice
By William J. Stuntz
Harvard University Press (2011)
Reviewed by Timothy Zindel
Harvard law professor William Stuntz succumbed to cancer in 2011 at 52, months before the university published his masterwork, one of the most important books about American criminal justice to be published in many years. Stuntz’s humanism and compassion make this work both readable and convincing. His book has no trace of academic dryness.
Stuntz begins: “Among the great untold stories of our time is this one: the last half of the twentieth century saw America’s criminal justice system unravel.” He asks: How did it unravel? What can be done to repair it? His work is rich with ideas. While the book contains too many ideas to describe in a short review, three will be explained here.
The failings of the American justice system arise in part from two Reconstruction-era Supreme Court rulings construing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment — United
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