Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice

Unfair The New Science of Criminal Injustice A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system Kirkus Reviews starred A child is gunned down by a police officer an investigator ignores critical clues in a ca

  • Title: Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice
  • Author: Adam Benforado
  • ISBN: 9780770437787
  • Page: 496
  • Format: Paperback
  • A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system Kirkus Reviews, starred A child is gunned down by a police officer an investigator ignores critical clues in a case an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit a jury acquits a killer The evidence is all around us Our system of justice is fundamentally broken But A law professor sounds an explosive alarm on the hidden unfairness of our legal system Kirkus Reviews, starred A child is gunned down by a police officer an investigator ignores critical clues in a case an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit a jury acquits a killer The evidence is all around us Our system of justice is fundamentally broken But it s not for the reasons we tend to think, as law professor Adam Benforado argues in this eye opening, galvanizing book Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we would still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment This is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us This is difficult to accept Our nation is founded on the idea that the law is impartial, that legal cases are won or lost on the basis of evidence, careful reasoning and nuanced argument But they may, in fact, turn on the camera angle of a defendant s taped confession, the number of photos in a mug shot book, or a simple word choice during a cross examination In Unfair, Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, showing, for example, that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far likely to grant parole first thing in the morning Over the last two decades, psychologists and neuroscientists have uncovered many cognitive forces that operate beyond our conscious awareness Until we address these hidden biases head on, Benforado argues, the social inequality we see now will only widen, as powerful players and institutions find ways to exploit the weaknesses of our legal system Weaving together historical examples, scientific studies, and compelling court cases from the border collie put on trial in Kentucky to the five teenagers who falsely confessed in the Central Park Jogger case Benforado shows how our judicial processes fail to uphold our values and protect society s weakest members With clarity and passion, he lays out the scope of the legal system s dysfunction and proposes a wealth of practical reforms that could prevent injustice and help us achieve true fairness and equality before the law.From the Hardcover edition.

    One thought on “Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice”

    1. I can sum up my thoughts in three easy words: Read this book. No, don't even hesitate long enough to read this review. Just buy the book.For those of you still with me, I'll do my best to offer some specifics. While the author gives us lots of facts to ponder, the content never feels dry or overly academic. Benforado writes in a conversational style, engaging his readers as if he's sitting with friends. I read a lot on this topic, and this book is one of the best out there. We look at psychologi [...]

    2. Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado is a law professor's look at the American justice system-a system that turns out to be, in his view, more of an injustice system. Benforado compares today's system with examples from the middle ages and other periods of the past and examines the differences as well as the similarities between the two. He asks, how far have we really come? The answer would appear to be, under huge surface differences, maybe not as far as we think. Ju [...]

    3. As depressing as you would expect from the title. But this is not just another book about structural racism or corruption, much of it is dedicated to exploring how profoundly incapable we are of living up to the fantasy of our justice system. He references countless studies showing that not just jurors and eyewitnesses, but police, lawyers and judges exhibit shockingly irrational behavior. I read a fair number of topical "the world is going to hell if we don't fix X now" books, and much of this [...]

    4. The criminal justice systems of the United States work very badly. Adam Benforado, a law professor at Drexel University, demonstrates their deficiencies under the broad headings of investigation, adjudication, punishment, and reform. He is very fair in pointing out the progress that has been made, both here and in other countries, and creative in suggesting and supporting possible solutions. This is the first book that I have ever read that looks to science, data, and intelligence, both human an [...]

    5. This book is EXCELLENT! Put it on the top of your to read list if you are interested in the Justice system. This is the book I have been waiting to read. I taught criminology and criminal justice to undergrads and am now wishing Adam Benforado had written a textbook. I truly hope he turns this incredible popular science book about crime, decision-making, and justice into a textbook for the next generation of students who are interested in taking a job in some aspect of our criminal justice syste [...]

    6. 3.5 starsThis is a thought-provoking critique of the American criminal justice system based on psychological research. It is more of an overview than a deep dive: in 286 pages of text (excluding the bibliography), the author discusses everything from snap judgments in investigations, to false confessions and erroneous eyewitness identifications, to the reasons some lawyers behave unethically, to misleading expert testimony, to judicial bias, to the workability of prisons. These are all important [...]

    7. Unfair by Adam Benforado tackles a difficult subject: the ironic injustice of our criminal justice system in the United States. He argues that our legal system has a wide array of flaws with no easy solution to eradicate them; Benforado suggests that psychological biases come into play in every aspect of prosecution.The way Benforado sets up his argument (not going to go into a lot of detail; the book is short… read it!), it reminded me a lot of the equal pay issue in America and much of the w [...]

    8. Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice is an enlightening and well-structured book about the ways in which the current US criminal justice system fails us. Adam Benforado, an associate professor law and a former attorney, focuses on how our hidden biases affect the justice system. He explains the problems in each part of the legal process and offers possible solutions.In fact, we are not such cool and deliberate detectives; rather, we are masters at jumping to conclusions based on an extr [...]

    9. Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado “Unfair" is a fantastic, well-researched look at what is at the heart of our unfair criminal system. Law professor Adam Benforado has provided the public with an eye-opening gem grounded on the best current science, historical court cases and insightful research. He explores the nature of the criminal mind, eyewitness memory, jury deliberations, police procedures, and intuitions about punishment. This enlightening 402-page book in [...]

    10. It’s not too often I use the word “brilliant” in writing a book review, but in the case of “Unfair” I have to say that it is nothing short of that description brilliant. There are any numbers of books available on the subjects of false confessions, wrongful convictions and the flaws in both police practices and the court system. I have read several and, in my opinion, “Unfair” is the cream of the crop. If you read only one book on the subject this should be the book you choose. In [...]

    11. This was an interesting book that made a few good points that were ultimately swamped by some very poor judgment. I like where he's coming from. The basic idea is to take the popularized research of Kahneman and Traversky and others (e.g. Thinking, Fast and Slow) and apply it to criminal justice. Since I've already read most of those books, the examples in this book were almost all familiar to me already, but for the most part Benforado is making solid, relevant points. For example: we tend to d [...]

    12. *I was a winner of a Giveaway for this book.*Unfair's intro talks a big game, promising to cover a range of issues and delve into the biases and many barriers to justice in our country faced by law enforcement, victims, defendants, lawyers, judges, and jurors (and everyone in between). I was so thrilled that this book delivered on all it's potential. Benforado is an incredibly impassioned and unflinching writer who addresses the history of our issues as well as practical approaches to remedy th [...]

    13. This is a crucially important book: the author applies social theory and psychology to the justice system, evaluating the process of police interrogations, eyewitness identification, jury selection, the huge number of people incarcerated and the use of solitary confinement--essentially a review of the entire justice system, viewed through the lens of social science and history. Although I work with people who are mentally ill and frequently incarcerated, my understanding of the justice system co [...]

    14. Man I am just not made for non-fiction reads.First off I'll say I got this book because my former law school professor wrote it. Benforado was a funny teacher and his classes enjoyable. I listened to the audiobook version of this and was disappointed he did not actually narrate the book himself (I wasn't expecting him to but it would have been nice)I enjoyed the first part of this book, which had case studies, a lot more than I did the later parts, which offer possible solutions. No doubt our le [...]

    15. A lot of times I'll hear interviews with authors on NPR and I'll feel compelled to read the book they're discussing. I think this is because there is something magical in the specific tenor NPR hosts use - slow, with exacting pauses, and raises in excitement of voice, and something overly smooth in general that convinces me I must trust them and read what they suggest. That I also work in criminal defense made me pick up Benforado's book, just as the interview was ending. Read this book. If you [...]

    16. I wanted to like this book, because I agree with many of the main points about the fallibility of the legal system, but this book is rife with modern psychology results that I find incredibly dubious presented as fact. Radically overhauling our justice system based on the results of these tenuous psychological experiments would be a terrible idea, and really gives you an understanding of precisely why things like the justice system should be conservative by nature.I also was not in the least swa [...]

    17. I know I am in the minority here but I did not like this book. We already know our education system is broken, our political system is broken and our justice system is in shambles. Listening to "Serial Podcasts" or watching, "Making a Murderer" gives you a more in depth vision than this book. What bothered me most about this book was the depressing tone it took. According to Benforado, we are all innately prejudiced so there is no way to achieve fairness. His solutions were just bizarre. I think [...]

    18. This was a provocative read peppered with many interesting cases to prove the author's points. I don't agree with all of his findings or recommendations, but I certainly agree with enough of them to concur that our system is flawedd fatally for far too many. Looking forward to our book club discussion on this one.

    19. Excellent book. Really opened my eyes to not only some of the most obvious cases of biases and injustice, but the many, many ways things are unfair that most people are unaware of. Everything from how police/emt's/hospital workers treat patients to the results of court cases/parole hearings depending on the time of day. Fascinating stuff and I really liked how the author presents many ways to correct some of the injustices.

    20. Book content: Part 1: Investigation1. The Labels We Live By - The Victim2. Dangerous Confessions - The Detective3. The Criminal Mind - The SuspectPart II: Adjudication4. Breaking the Rules - The Lawyer5. The Eye of the Beholder - The Jury6. The Corruption of Memory - The Eyewitness7. How to Tell a Lie - The Eyewitness8. Umpires or Activists? - The JudgePart III: Punishment9. An Eye for an Eye - The Public10. Throwing Away the Key - The PrisonersPart IV: Reform11. What We Must Overcome - The Chal [...]

    21. Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado is a critical examination of the American criminal justice system. And it is vitally important that we look at it. Benforado details the many, many ways that the criminal justice system does not, in fact, deliver justice. The structure of the book, from investigation to adjudication to punishment, allows him to show how things can go wrong each step of the way. Along the way he points out the relevant social science research that he [...]

    22. The author does a good job discussing some interesting scientific studies about the underlying causes of criminality and the ways that human fallibilities can foster unfairness in law enforcement, but goes off the rails once he starts editorializing. For example, after an interesting discussion on how the perspective of a video camera on a cop car can influence the interpretation of the video as overly sympathetic to a police officer who made arguably an overly aggresive move to stop a car chase [...]

    23. Another important read in the all too-real world of wrongful conviction. Benforado takes an approach that I haven't come across yet. He spends a lot of time bringing forward psychological studies and applies them to our criminal justice system. The science behind why our system fails us so often is very closely tied to our human tendency to believe that we are capable of setting aside our biases (including hosts of biases and false beliefs that we don't even know we have), coming to "the truth" [...]

    24. Full disclosure on this review: I'm a criminal defense attorney, so I come into this book with a different perspective than most readers will.That said, I think this is a good book for general consumption, but I wanted more. Benforado touches on a number of issues that are pressing in the justice system, but he really just touches on them. The book's broad scope and it's target audience (i.e not me) mean that we're not going to get significant depth on any one of the many interesting subjects he [...]

    25. Although it hasn't attracted much mainstream attention, it is well worth a visit. As the title indicates it deals with the "science" of the justice system. One might add and the "social science" as it delves into the psychological dimensions of judges and juries. Unfortunately much of the progress made in such areas is not heeded, either by design or through ignorance. Often that very science is used to reinforce prejudices and court presentations that can influence jurors who are not science sa [...]

    26. Reading this book made me wish I was in a position to make more of an impact on at least some of the most egregious problems with our justice system. I am glad that I read it, and hope to remember the principles I have learned. I think that much of what I read in this book I can apply to my life to be a better father and more empathetic to my fellow-passengers to the grave. Using solitary confinement as a punishment really stands out as something that needs to be done away in our system. The aut [...]

    27. Adam Benforado does a marvelous job of sharing recent behavioral, social, neuroscience and psychological sciences as applied to our justice system. The writing style is welcoming with stories and vignettes used to illustrate the concepts while keeping the reader engaged. Particularly nice is the 70 page bibliography organized by chapter with an online "extended notes" available too - you get the benefits of a good read with the hard science references to dive deeper. Whether involved directly in [...]

    28. "It's time for honest reflection. Justice should not be a commodity." ~ Adam BenforadoFood for thought book! Must read for anyone who is in criminal justice, studying criminal justice, or who is seriously dedicated to reform within our current justice system.Benforado does a superb job of breaking down the current system into different parts and players. From there he goes about analyzing what it is set up to do and it's shortcomings. But Benforado doesn't just make a laundry list of what's wron [...]

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