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Random House Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration
By (author): Emily Bazelon
9780399590016 Hardcover English General Trade SOCIAL SCIENCE / Penology Apr 09, 2019
$37.00 CAD
Active 6.38 x 9.53 x 1.41 in 448 pages Random House
A renowned investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis, and also offers a way out.

The American criminal justice system is supposed to be a contest between two equal adversaries, the prosecution and the defense, with judges ensuring a fair fight. But in fact, it is prosecutors who have the upper hand, in a contest that is far from equal. More than anyone else, prosecutors decide who goes free and who goes to prison, and even who lives and who dies. The system wasn’t designed for this kind of unchecked power, and in Charged, Emily Bazelon shows that it is an underreported cause of enormous injustice—and the missing piece in the mass incarceration puzzle.

But that’s only half the story. Prosecution in America is at a crossroads. The power of prosecutors makes them the actors in the system—the only actors—who can fix what’s broken without changing a single law. They can end mass incarceration, protect against coercive plea bargains and convicting the innocent, and tackle racial bias. And because in almost every state we, the people, elect prosecutors, it is within our power to reshape the choices they make. In the last few years, for the first time in American history, a wave of reform-minded prosecutors has taken office in major cities throughout the country. Bazelon follows them, showing the difference they make for people caught in the system and how they are coming together as a new kind of lobby for justice and mercy.

In Charged, Emily Bazelon mounts a major critique of the American criminal justice system—and charts the movement for change.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Emily Bazelon is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a co-host of the beloved Slate podcast, Political Gabfest, a New York Times bestselling author, and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. Her first book, Sticks and Stones, was featured on the cover of The New York Times Book Review. She has appeared on Fresh Air, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Today, PBS NewsHour, and Morning Joe. She has spoken and debated at the Aspen Ideas Festival, SXSW, TEDxWomen, the Women in the World Summit, the American Constitution Society, Columbia Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and the Federalist Society, among others.

IMPORTANT TOPIC: As books like The New Jim Crow, Ghettoside, and Just Mercy demonstrate, the issue of mass incarceration, and what to do about it, is constantly in the news and on the minds of citizen activists. And Bazelon—a legal expert and an award-winning investigative journalist—is the ideal person to help make sense of it.

AUTHOR CREDENTIALS IN THIS AREA: Bazelon is a lawyer and teaches at Yale Law School and is a regular commentator on law and politics at universities and ideas festivals and on NPR and cable television.

TIMELY: As Donald Trump sets off a wave of political activism, criminal justice reform has become a rare oasis of bipartisanship at the local level, with red states like Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma joining blue cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. With the Trump Justice Department striking back, it’s the perfect time to have the conversation this book will set off.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. Before joining the Times Magazine, Bazelon was a writer at Slate, where she co-founded the women’s section DoubleX. Bazelon has previously been a Soros media fellow and worked as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. She has appeared on Fresh Air, Morning Edition, Today, PBS NewsHour, and Morning Joe, and is a co-host of the weekly Slate podcast Political Gabfest. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, This American Life, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The Washington Post, among other publications. She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.

Author Residence: New Haven, Connecticut

Author Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

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“Emily Bazelon’s new book about the American judicial system reads like two books. Both are crucial to understanding the wretchedness of the American criminal legal process, and both offer something missing from most other books about mass incarceration: hope. The first book in Charged grabs for the heart: It is a riveting page-turner about two criminal defendants and their prosecutors. The second one goes for the reader’s mind: It’s a lucid synthesis of the most important research on mass incarceration and an insightful analysis of the politics of law and order in the era of President Trump and Black Lives Matter.”The Washington Post
“[Charged] achieves what in-depth first-person reporting should: it humanizes the statistics, makes us aware that every courtroom involves the bureaucratic regimentation of an individual’s life.”The New Yorker
“Bazelon tells the tales of Noura and Kevin in rich, novelistic prose, which at its best puts one in mind of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s book Random Family…. This combination of powerful reporting with painstaking research yields a comprehensive examination of the modern American criminal justice system that appeals to both the head and the heart.”The New York Times Book Review

“An important, thoughtful, and thorough examination of criminal justice in America that speaks directly to how we reduce mass incarceration and increase fairness…comprehensive and beautifully written, a book every policy maker should read.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

“This book made me feel better. Hopeful, even! Because Emily Bazelon, cogent and clear-eyed as ever, lays out a welcome double-barreled argument: A prosecutorial shift toward mercy and fairness is crucial to healing our busted criminal justice system, and it’s already happening. What’s that, you say? You want step-by-step instructions for how to reform your local prosecutor’s office? No sweat: Charged has that, too. Just skip to the end.”—Sarah Koenig, host of Serial
“In this deeply researched, elegantly told book, Emily Bazelon reveals how unchecked prosecutorial power has damaged the American justice system. Charged shows that our courts are not level playing fields. Rather, accused citizens, defense attorneys, and even judges are at the mercy of prosecutors who have used their influence to drive the prison boom. This harrowing, often enraging book is a hopeful one, as well, profiling innovative new approaches and the frontline advocates who champion them. This is a necessary read for those who care about inequality, the law, and the future of American justice.”—Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted

“An insightful, highly readable examination of local prosecutors—who they are, what they do, and how they do it…At a moment when electing progressive prosecutors has become a cornerstone of the movement against mass incarceration, this book offers reasons for both caution and hope.”—James Forman, Jr., Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Locking Up Our Own

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