There's been tremendous public outrage lately over the process of criminal justice and its failure to prevent needless deaths. As illustrated by the recent outcries over the shooting deaths of Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, the public has a growing desire to have their voices heard in matters of local criminal justice.
Today, society, media, and politicians pay close attention to the latest high-profile crime, but the general public usually finds itself at a great remove, watching the system from the sidelines. This is highly frustrating to the average citizen, especially when they want to see wrongdoers go through a public adversarial process.
The public’s growing concerns about the secrecy and the lack of public accountability inherent in our current criminal justice system point to a need for more transparency and a better way to include the local community into adjudications of criminal justice.
In my new book, Defending the Jury: Crime, Community, and the Constitution (Cambridge UP: 2015), I try to provide solutions to some of these problems by focusing on ways to insert the local community back into criminal justice, whether formally or informally. I argue that the people's right to participate in the criminal justice system through the criminal jury - a right that is all too often overlooked - is essential to truly legitimizing the criminal process and ensuring its democratic nature.
Leon Nefakh , who writes about criminal justice at Slate, just reviewed the book here, giving one of its major ideas--inserting a plea jury into the plea bargain process--careful, if somewhat skeptical, consideration.
Ultimately, our system of hidden criminal adjudication is one where decisions concerning life and liberty are made far from the public sphere and the public eye. This book is my attempt to solve some of these seemingly intractable problems. And at only $29.95 a copy ($16 on Kindle), it's a bargain!