Book Review: Federal intervention in American police departments

Date01 September 2021
Published date01 September 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
challenges of sentencing reforms poses a myriad of questions to stimulate discussion in any criminal
justice course. For example, in this chapter, she brings the discussion back to the goals of sentencing
and asks how or whether each of the sentencing strategies can be used to accomplish them, thus
providing the reader with not only a description of the goals themselves but a useful application.
In several places throughout the book, Marciniak provides state-by-state details on sentencing
strategies. For example, she provides a detailed table documenting the current status of mandatory
sentencing in each of the states that is useful for students and practitioners in the criminal justice
system. The final chapter provides information on current legislative initiatives that would be of
interest to the general public. A particularly comprehensive table of contents allows readers to select
the chapter(s) and section(s) most useful to them.
While the comprehensiveness of the book is its strength, its main weakness is its attempt to cover
perhaps too much ground and appeal to multiple audiences. Given the focus on state differences, the
chapter on federalsentencing could be expanded and relegatedto a separate book itself. As mentioned
above, several of the chapters seem to be particularly suited to a specific audience. For example, the
issues andchallenges of sentencing reformseem to be geared more toward undergraduates, as seasoned
criminologists are likely already familiar with the goals of sentencing. The chapter on commission-
basedsentencing, on the otherhand, is geared more towardresearchers studyingsentencing and mightbe
tough for an undergrad reader to digest. Regardless, thisbook has something for everyone.
A second weakness is that the book does not tie political motives into the sentencing process.
While Marciniak acknowledges that legislatures have an important role as representatives of the
public’s opinion, and there is some mention of the president’s role in the chapter on federal
sentencing, I would have liked to have seen more discussion of exactly how politicians use law
and order to gain favor with the public. The book focuses on state differences in sentencing, but there
is no discussion of how politics shap es these differences. A more nuanced r ed state/blue state
discussion could be included.
As mentioned above, one of the main goals of the book is to illustrate in detail the differences in
sentencing across states. Even seasoned criminologists will be surprised to learn the vast array of
sentences an offender can receive from state to state. Case studies on particular states show how
offenders could receive vastly different sentences for the same crime. For example, an offender
convicted of forcible rape with certain specifications/priors can receive a sentence of 15–99 years in
Texas, 5–11 years in Ohio, and about 26 years in North Carolina. These case studies and “spotlights”
on laws from particular states undoubtedly make this an engaging read. Marciniak is clearly an
expert on sentencing variations and has provided the criminal justice community with a wonderful
reference that should be on every criminologist’s bookshelf.
Rushin, S. (2017).
Federal intervention in American police departments. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, University
Printing House. 298 pp. $82.39, ISBN 978-1-107-51356-3.
Reviewed by: John Jay Hall, Capella University, Houston, TX, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016817733781
The book is entitled, Federal Intervention in American Police Departments, and was written by
Stephen Rushin (2017). Mr. Rushin is an academian and attorney specializing in criminal law, police
accountability, and empirical legal studies.
Book Reviews 383

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