4th of July and Criminal Justice

Complex Marble

As America celebrated its 238th birthday, I finished reading my first book of the summer, The Collapse of the American Criminal Justice System, by the late Harvard law professor William J. Stuntz. Let me say from the outset that I spent 10 years as a police officer, and I firmly believe that guilty should be punished. However, I’ve always believed that punishment should fit the crime, and I’ve come to believe that the current American justice system has serious problems. Stuntz articulated those problems much better than I ever could, and I’m grateful he wrote the book before he died in 2011 at age 52.

Stuntz points out the craziness of living in the home of the free, where more than a million and a half of our compatriots languish in state and federal prisons and taxpayers pay for the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to the International Centre for…

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