Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System

Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System

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A senior federal judge's incisive, unsettling exploration of some of the paradoxes that define the judiciary today, Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free features essays examining why innocent people plead guilty, why high-level executives aren't prosecuted, why you won't get your day in court, and why the judiciary is curtailing its own constitutionally mandated power.


How can we be proud of a system of justice that often pressures the innocent to plead guilty? How can we claim that justice is equal when we imprison thousands of poor Black men for relatively modest crimes but rarely prosecute rich white executives who commit crimes having far greater impact? How can we applaud the Supreme Court's ever-more-limited view of its duty to combat excesses by the president?

The federal judge Jed S. Rakoff, a leading authority on white-collar crime, explores these and other puzzles in Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free, a startling account of our broken legal system. Grounded in Rakoff's twenty-four years as a federal trial judge in New York in addition to the many years he worked as a federal prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer, Rakoff 's assessment of our justice system illuminates some of our most urgent legal, social, and political issues: plea deals and class-action lawsuits, corporate impunity and the death penalty, the perils
of eyewitness testimony and forensic science, the war on terror and the expanding reach of the executive branch. A fundamental problem, he reveals, is that the judiciary is constraining its own constitutional powers.

Like few others, Rakoff understands the values that animate the best aspects of our legal system--and has a close-up view of our failure to live up to these ideals. But he sees within this gap great opportunities for practical reform, and a public mandate to make our justice system truly just.

Title:Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780374289997
Format Type:

    Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System Reviews

  • David Wineberg

    In so many instances, when a company is rotten, the people at the top don’t see or simply refuse to see it, and then claim they know best and everyone below is wrong. Employees who work there are fr...

  • Ginni

    Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free is a tricky book to rate. It's five-star content for sure. Federal judge Jed Rakoff knows his stuff, and he makes some really compelling points abo...

  • Jeff

    Excellent Examination Of US Judicial System. This is an excellent examination of the US Judicial system, from a former US District Court judge. Indeed, the *singular* outright flaw in the ARC copy I r...

  • Andra

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss....

  • J Earl

    Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free... by Jed S Rakoff is a book that needs to be read by everyone with any opinion about our legal system. Whether you think it is working (in which c...

  • Diane

    Jed Rakoff, from his long-time vantage point inside the judicial system, describes in an even-handed way serious legal problems in our system on all levels, and lays out in clear terms, with examples,...

  • dangaskill1

    Interesting ReadI really liked the portions of the book that discussed problems with the criminal law aspects our legal system. I would have liked to have had a deeper dive into that area. Towards the...

  • Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/.I’ve long known that our judiciary system has a lot of loopholes and flaws, but I didn’t know much about what they are. So when I heard abou...

  • Sara Broad

    "Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free" by Jed Rakoff is an important look at the justice system in America. Rakoff explains how those who are most targeted by America's legacy of oppre...

  • Maggie Holmes

    This book is a call to action for everyone, not just people concerned with racial justice. The lack of access to jury trials for everyday people and the deference given to corporations and the executi...