No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System
By David Cole
No Equal Justice is a detailed, researched analysis of how the criminal justice system has been and still is structured against minorities and the poor.
The New Press (1999)
Reviewed by: Eric Howard
In times in which debate is often structured around the current attention-getting trial or negative advertisement on a political campaign, this books serves as an antidote. David Cole's researched and endnoted chapters examine the history, including recent history, of how the U.S. criminal justice system has failed to acknowledge its failures.
Ranging from the Scottsboro case to jury selection to unequal sentencing guidelines for powder and crack cocaine, Cole argues that two-tiered justice remains an established fact in this country, and that the nation's failure to address the issue honestly has led to lack of trust among the marginalized. This lack of trust, in turn, spells danger for a government that is based on the consent of the governed.
Cole's argument is convincing. In the last chapter, "Remedies," Cole concludes, "The key to restoring the criminal law's legitimacy is to eliminate or reduce the double standards" Finally, Cole suggests methods to restore communities, by which the rifts of the past and present may be closed.
Eric Howard is associate editor of Los Angeles Lawyer.