I often point people to William Stuntz’ “The Collapse of American Criminal Justice” via my review. There are a lot of details in that book I regret not being able to include, but I just found this review (which pre-dates mine by years) from Handle (who I mostly remember as a commenter years ago rather than a blogger) which makes up for my deficiencies. He also has his own perspective as a lawyer who once freed a flagrantly guilty person as part of his work via an “Innocence Project” type organization. I had some criticism of Stuntz in my review, while Handle’s review is oriented more as a critique of Stuntz’ project, and I thought I’d note how our views differ.

Handle is trying to slot the book as liberal/progressive, and is thus surprised when Stuntz writes things that sound surprisingly reactionary. I had heard Stuntz was a conservative (perhaps because he was an evangelical Christian), and was thus not surprised by those bits but instead by how he posed as criticizing the Warren Court from the left. Inspired as I am by Robin Hanson, I think it is better not to think of Stuntz as being on one side or another of the current policy tug-o-war but instead pointing to an example like Gilded Age northern cities to show a workable third alternative. In this respect it is best read in combination with Mark Kleiman’s “When Brute Force Fails”, which also argued for a viable method of bringing crime down via more policing and less incarceration. It is also perfectly fine to be cynical about what the results of localism will be, recalling also that “woke” ideology is correlated less with being a non-Asian minority than being part of the professional managerial class. The new “machine” bosses would probably be fine with a payout (which is sort of what Mencius Moldbug originally proposed via “formalism”, except that Brahmin rule would be more formalized there) which Republicans/suburbanites would prefer to the broader misgovernance we are currently subjected to.

I only discovered this review because via Spotted Toad I found his much more recent review of a Rod Dreher book (which I hadn’t heard of before) purporting to be a “manual” for persecuted Christians. Because that was recent enough I commented there, and thus don’t feel the need to reiterate my thoughts here.