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November 2015 Vol. 53 No. 3

Crown Publishing

The following review appeared in the November 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences

2014-41693 CIP
Benforado, Adam. Unfair: the new science of criminal injustice. Crown, 2015. 379p bibl index ISBN 9780770437763, $26.00; ISBN 9780770437770 ebook, $13.99.

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Recent actions of police officers across the country and an ongoing stream of exonerations of those committed to prison or, worse, condemned to death, point to a broken system of justice.  Benforado (law, Drexel Univ.) seeks a way out of the seemingly intractable problems of the US criminal justice system.  His solution is in his book's title: it is science.  The author's treatise covers each element of the criminal justice system—police, courts, corrections—and applies what science says is occurring at each stage, particularly the sciences of the mind: psychology and the neurosciences.  What is revealed is in turn disturbing and confounding: race shapes decision making, and people lie and cheat (but not always as expected) for the greatest return.  Benforado contends in his comprehensive conclusion that the country is not without hope.  The hope resides in science and technology.  His most controversial proposal is the “virtual trial,” in which avatars replace participants.  This could, according to Benforado, “reduce our dependence on fallible human faculties.”  Especially for those engaged in critical policy analysis.

--S. E. Blankenship, Lake Erie College

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.