Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book Roundup: Oxford U Press Edition

This week's book roundup comes from trolling the pages of Oxford University Press, and thus the collection is a bit more eclectic, but with a heavy mix of history and legal scholarship.

First, we have two historical works on race and criminal justice.

Pippa Holloway's Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship (2013)
Living in Infamy examines the history of disfranchisement for criminal conviction in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the post-war South, white southern Democrats expanded the usage of laws disfranchising for crimes of infamy in order to deny African Americans the suffrage rights due them as citizens, employing historical similarities between the legal statuses of slaves and convicts as justification. At the same time, our nation's criminal code changed. The inhumane treatment of prisoners, the expansion of the prison system, the public nature of punishment by forced labor, and the abandonment of the idea of reform and rehabilitation of prisoners all contributed to a national consensus that certain categories of criminals should be permanently disfranchised. 
As racial barriers to suffrage were challenged and fell, rights remained restricted for persons targeted by such infamy laws; criminal convictions--in place of race--continued the disparity in legal status between whites and African Americans. Decades later, after race-based disfranchisement has officially ended, legislation steeped in a legacy of racial discrimination continues to perpetuate a dichotomy of suffrage and citizenship that still affects our election outcomes today.

Jeffrey L. Kirchmeiern's Imprisoned by the Past: Warren McCleskey and the American Death Penalty (2015)
Imprisoned by the Past ties together three unique American stories in U.S history. First, the book considers the changing American death penalty across centuries where drastic changes have occurred in the last fifty years. Second, the book discusses the role that race played in that history. And third, the book tells the story of Warren McCleskey and how his life and legal case brought together the other two narratives.



Next is a qualitative study of hate crime and restorative justice: Mark Austin Walters' Hate Crime and Restorative Justice: Exploring Causes, Repairing Harms (2014)
The study's findings provide original data on the contextual variables that are intrinsic to both the cause and effect of hate-motivated offences, revealing complex socio-cultural and socio-economic factors that are fundamental, both to our understanding of hate crime and to how such incidents can be best resolved.
We also have two studies on international war crimes, one an edited volume on an important case and one examining the ICC and war crimes tribunals more generally.  

The Milosevic Trial: An Autopsy, Edited by Timothy William Waters
The international trial of Slobodan Milošević, who presided over the violent collapse of Yugoslavia - was already among the longest war crimes trials when Milošević died in 2006. Yet precisely because it ended without judgment, its significance and legacy are specially contested. The contributors to this volume, including trial participants, area specialists, and international law scholars bring a variety of perspectives as they examine the meaning of the trial's termination and its implications for post-conflict justice. The book's approach is intensively cross-disciplinary, weighing the implications for law, politics, and society that modern war crimes trials create.
William Schabas' Unimaginable Atrocities: Justice, Politics, and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals (2014)

International criminal tribunals have often been stigmatized as an exercise in victors' justice. This book traces how this critique developed and the difficulty it poses to the identification of situations for prosecution by the International Criminal Court. The claim that amnesty for international crimes is prohibited by international law is challenged, with a more nuanced approach to the relationship between justice and peace being proposed.

Finally, we have two books exploring gender and crime, one an anthology on the subject, the other exploring the role of medical diagnosis in Shaken Baby Syndrome deaths/murders. 

The Oxford Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Crime, Edited by Rosemary Gartner and Bill McCarthy (2014)

The editors, Rosemary Gartner and Bill McCarthy, have assembled a diverse cast of criminologists, historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and sociologists from a number of countries to discuss key concepts and debates central to the field. The Handbook includes examinations of the historical and contemporary patterns of women's and men's involvement in crime; as well as biological, psychological, and social science perspectives on gender, sex, and criminal activity. Several essays discuss the ways in which sex and gender influence legal and popular reactions to crime. An important theme throughout The Handbook is the intersection of sex and gender with ethnicity, class, age, peer groups, and community as influences on crime and justice. Individual chapters investigate both conventional topics - such as domestic abuse and sexual violence - and topics that have only recently drawn the attention of scholars - such as human trafficking, honor killing, gender violence during war, state rape, and genocide.

Deborah Tuerkheimer's Flawed Convictions: "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and the Inertia of Injustice (2014)

Flawed Convictions: "Shaken Baby Syndrome" and the Inertia of Injustice is the first book to survey the scientific, cultural, and legal history of Shaken Baby Syndrome from inception to formal dissolution. It exposes extraordinary failings in the criminal justice system's treatment of what is, in essence, a medical diagnosis of murder.


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