For Academics and SociologistsIs our justice system solving social problems or adding to them?
If you are one of the many academics or students in our universities trying to address this question, you need this book.
In a country that cherishes freedom and prides itself on being willing to fight for it, it's not a little ironic that more than 2 million of its citizens are behind bars, and that under-privileged sections of our community are vastly over-represented in that sample of 2 million people.
Why is this so?
To find answers, we must understand how the cogs and levers of the system connect. This is where Busted by The Feds is more than a practical manual, it's an exhaustively researched exposition on a complex social system. Both through anecdotes and analysis, it makes a serious contribution to the debate on the law and social justice; and the sociological effects of our current federal justice system.
"Larry Fassler's book, Busted by The Feds, is a handbook for defendants caught up in the federal criminal justice system. It is a guide for what they should do from the time they are arrested, through plea-bargaining negotiations and courtroom behavior, all the way to incarceration. It is specific, detailed, and crucial for any defendant interested in getting some kind of justice rather than in simply being processed by the system.
It is this last point that makes the book an example of sociology at its best. Good sociology goes beyond the "official" version of what takes place in a social institution. It describes what really takes place and explains why.
Fassler points out that the real goal for all the participants in the federal criminal Justice system is to process defendants and dispose of cases. This includes not just law enforcement, the prosecution, and judges, but, in most cases, defense attorneys as well. Any defendant, therefore, must take primary responsibility for his or her own case and be as fully informed as he or she can be.
An especially important part of the book is Fassler's discussion of how the sentencing guidelines work in real life. For instance, unless a defendant knows exactly how much prison time the guidelines expose him to, both the prosecution and his or her own defense attorney are likely to tell him what the absolute maximum punishment is, and then offer him, supposedly as a "good deal," the maximum sentence he is in fact liable for under the guidelines applicable to him or her.
This is an excellent work, both as a practical guide for defendants and as an example of well researched applied sociology."
Leo F. Fay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus of Sociology