Virtual Justice: The Flawed Prosecution of Crime in America

H. Richard Uviller, Author
H. Richard Uviller, Author Yale University Press $60 (336p) ISBN 978-0-300-06483-4
Reviewed on: 05/27/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-300-07443-7
Hardcover - 332 pages - 978-0-585-36327-1
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-300-18303-0
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Reform arguments about criminal justice often fall along one or another side of a line dividing criminal defendants and the law-abiding public. On the right, some argue that liberals are too lenient with criminals at the expense of the broader public; while on the left, others say the presumption of innocence requires extreme care on the part of state authorities when prosecuting the accused. In this thoughtful, accessible and often personal book, Columbia University law professor Uviller argues that our criminal justice system often errs against the public interest by hampering police and prosecutors in their efforts to stop crime. He opposes, for instance, the widespread use of the exclusionary rule, which prohibits the use of evidence obtained by tainted police methods. He calls the rule ""the prime distortion factor in criminal verdicts."" But this is one example of a discussion that includes jury nullification and plea bargaining among other currently hot topics. Uviller's discussion of the Second Amendment places it squarely in its historical context, emphasizing the connection between the right to bear arms and the clause favoring ""well regulated"" state militias. Though many would agree with him that ""the American system of criminal justice fails to deliver true justice,"" there will also be many who believe that his emphasis on administrative and legal solutions can't correct what is often a result of social injustice. (June)
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