THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE AMERICAN PROSECUTOR. Edited by John L. Worrall & M. Elaine Nugent-Borakove. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. 2008. Pp. vii, 284. $27.95. The Changing Role of the American Prosecutor examines the powerful yet often mysterious role of the prosecutor in the American criminal justice system. This collection of essays comments on existing empirical work, suggests areas in which more research would be helpful, and explores the evolving criminal and political context in which prosecutors operate. The book considers how prosecutors are affected by certain systemic changes, such as the "federalization" of crimes (p. 31), the introduction of sentencing reforms that "reduc[e] or eliminat[e] discretion on the part of judges and correctional officials" (p. 73), and the growth of specialized problem-solving courts. It also highlights how prosecutors' offices have reacted to emerging criminal patterns, such as the explosion of drug-related criminal prosecutions, by experimenting with alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system. Parts IV and V question whether prosecutors can or should focus more on community-based solutions rather than individual prosecutions. The book ultimately provides a fascinating look at the potential promise a prosecutor's power presents for rectifying many of the ills that currently afflict the criminal justice system.
DARFUR AND THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE. By John Hagan & Wenona Rymond-Richmond. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. 2009. Pp. xxii, 269. $24.99. In this harrowing look at the ongoing genocide and humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Professors John Hagan and Wenona Rymond-Richmond examine a 2004 State Department study in which over one thousand displaced Darfuris were interviewed in refugee camps in neighboring Chad. The study's shocking firsthand accounts of the killings, rapes, and general devastation in Darfur serve as an impetus for the authors' analysis of the sluggish international response to the conflict and their eventual call to action. Professors Hagan and Rymond-Richmond suggest that the U.S. government's "flip-flop diplomacy" (p. 80) has been at least partially a function of criminology's longstanding failure to fully address genocide and other crimes against humanity. In the authors' estimation, criminologists have an obligation to cultivate knowledge and awareness of the "scale of the atrocities that constitute genocide" and "the intent that directs genocide against protected groups" (pp. 220-21). Hence, Professors Hagan and Rymond-Richmond conclude that the "national and international responsibility to protect by recognizing and responding to ... genocide" (p. 222) hinges crucially on the next generation of criminologists' ability to amass and disseminate this knowledge and awareness.
FDR V. THE CONSTITUTION: THE COURT-PACKING FIGHT AND THE TRIUMPH OF DEMOCRACY. By Burt Solomon. New York, N.Y.: Walker & Company. 2009. Pp. viii, 337. $26.00. Frustrated by a Supreme Court that routinely held his New Deal programs unconstitutional, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his second presidential term with a shocking announcement: he intended to "pack" the Supreme Court by adding six new justices to the bench. In FDR v. The Constitution, Burt Solomon expertly traces FDR's early initiatives and the Supreme Court rulings that rendered them nugatory. His lively account includes a behind-the-scenes look at the Court and the politics and personalities that produced its decisions. Mr. Solomon's description of FDR's controversial Court-packing plan focuses on how the two heroes of the opposition--Justice Owen Roberts, "a swing justice of inscrutable views," and Senator Burton Wheeler, "a maverick ... who never backed down"--spearheaded an effort ending in FDR's crushing defeat (p. 6). Mr. Solomon's account brings into stark relief the conflict between the Constitution and the pressing national needs created by the Great Depression, and how FDR's attempt to reconcile the two would have severely undermined the independence of the judiciary. …