BOOK REVIEW: Unfair: The New Science Of Criminal Injustice

Unfair: The New Science Of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado is a book about our broken system of criminal justice and the surprising reasons why. The author, an associate professor of law at Drexel University, is a graduate of both Yale College and Harvard Law School. 

This book is about the many problems in U.S. justice system and does not discuss sexual offense issues in great detail.  However, Benforado does write “The actual likelihood of the threat is often not what matters most. If we have strongly negative feelings about something-like an assault by a pedophile-we will treat it as a significant risk regardless of how likely it is to occur. ”  He goes on to mention,  we often fear things that are not major threats and ignore things that are more dangerous. Giving an example of driving a child to swim practice instead of allowing them to walk past the home of a person forced to register. The threat of death from a car accident, or drowning, is significantly more likely to occur than the risk posed by a person forced to register. Writing “So we invest heavily in registries and other harsh measures, despite research suggesting that such efforts have no significant impact on rates of reoffending and, in fact, threaten our core values of fair treatment .” 

Benforado does a good job of keeping the book interesting, frequently using true stories to discuss problems. He goes into detail about the reasons our system isn’t working and lays out some solutions. 

The book was published in 2015 and I’m disappointed, but not surprised, I haven’t heard more about it. I would really like to see the information examined by people in position to help correct the issues, as well as people who believe our system is working. As we know, changing problems in our criminal system takes a long time.

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