John F. Pfaff’s Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform is probably the best book on so-called mass incarceration to date. Its great strength is that it is empirically grounded. Pfaff, a professor of law at Fordham, doesn’t cherry-pick data to support some a priori theory, he grapples with the hard realities that the data present. As he well understands, this makes his argument for reducing imprisonment a very tough sell.
Could a book entitled The War on Cops be more disturbingly prescient? Within just a few weeks of the release of Mac Donald’s work on June 21, the country reeled in horror at the cold-blooded murder of five police officers in Dallas on July 7, followed by the assassination of three more officers in Baton Rouge just ten days later. Americans might be forgiven for taking Mac Donald’s title literally.
This podcast with criminologist Barry Latzer focuses on the surprising findings in his latest book, The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America. Latzer discusses the violent crime wave that began in the mid 1960's and how its sharp fall in the mid 90s has recast urban life in America. However, Latzer urges humility in understanding the rise and fall of violent crime, pointing to an array of social, economic, and demographic factors as likely reasons for the good news about the downturn in violent crime in the last two decades. While not dismissing recent calls for sentencing reform and a…