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The Champion

January - February 2016 , Page 61 

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Book Review: Inferno - An Anatomy of American Punishment

By Robert M. Sanger

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Inferno - An Anatomy of American Punishment

By Robert A. Ferguson
Harvard University Press (2014)


We had a new judge in our county who defeated the incumbent in an election. He had never practiced criminal law. Prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, and others working in the system were concerned that the new judge would not have a perspective on the actual workings of criminal law. To answer these concerns, the new judge, accompanied by a newspaper reporter, went undercover to see the county jail firsthand. He made a deal with the sheriff to be booked for 48 hours as a businessman, purportedly arrested for vehicular manslaughter, along with the reporter, purportedly a passenger arrested for resisting an officer. Like a really bad movie, only the sheriff and one commander knew the truth.

The experience was so traumatic that the new judge gave up the charade after about 12 hours and, yes, no one believed him. In fact, he was treated like all other people in jail: the mor

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