Staff Pick

 Each year some 13 million people are charged with such relatively petty offenses as jaywalking, trespassing, not buckling seat-belts, and possession of small amounts of marijuana. Most of those convicted for misdemeanors are poor and/or people of color and their cases are decided in minutes, with most defendants appearing in court without a lawyer and pleading guilty. They then find themselves in a spiral of fines, revoked drivers’ licenses, lost jobs, and criminal records. In Punishment Without Crime, Alexandra Natapoff, a law professor at the University of California, provides a detailed analysis of this vast misdemeanor system and makes a compelling case for how unjust and flawed the system is. She urges a closer look at this sector of the criminal justice system and proposes a number of needed reforms.

Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465093793
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Basic Books - December 31st, 2018

Staff Pick

Derek Black grew up schooled in racist ideology and was heir-apparent to the while nationalist movement. But in college he came to reexamine his racist beliefs and eventually repudiated them, denounced white nationalism, and publicly divorced himself from the movement. It was quite a shock when all this happened several years ago, and now in Rising Out of Hatred, Eli Saslow recounts Black’s remarkable transformation. An award-winning reporter for the Washington Post, Saslow has crafted an extensive, intimate, and riveting narrative of the evolution of Black’s beliefs, helped by the willingness of Black and his family and friends to cooperate, even allowing access to personal emails, Facebook conversations, and message board chats. While the book focuses on the journey of a single former white nationalist, the story reflects America’s larger ongoing struggles with racism and provides lessons about the potential for dialogue and moral reasoning to overcome hateful dogmas.

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385542869
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday - September 18th, 2018

Staff Pick

A journalist with Mother Jones, Shane Bauer spent four months working undercover as a corrections officer in a prison in Louisiana run by a private corporation. In American Prison, he recounts his experience, extensively documenting abuse and inattention by guards, suffering by inmates, and appalling profiteering by the Corrections Corporation of America. Chapters detailing what Bauer saw and heard at Winn Correctional Center alternate with chapters on the rise of CAA, the nation’s first private prison company, and the larger history of for-profit prisons in America, a system that, in the South especially, effectively exploited a force of African-American labor in the aftermath of slavery. Thanks to the recent surge in immigrant detention, privately run incarceration centers are thriving, but Bauer’s book suggests they’re no way to keep prisoners. 

American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735223585
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - September 18th, 2018