Top critical review
Solid Points Overshadowed by an Obvious Bias
August 6, 2018
While Alexander makes several good points about the dilemma of the US criminal Justice system, a system admittedly with many flaws, she constantly employs false dichotomies and uses single statistics to overreach and convey a conclusion that simply isn't supported by her evidence. It's hard to take cold, generalized statistics and apply them to every single individual case accurately. When you begin taking individual cases one by one, these cold statistics don't always show the conclusion that someone like this author hopes they might.
In one instance, the author attempts to paint President Clinton as a closeted racist, liberal sellout, and conservative crony intent on deploying the death sentence on as many black males as he can in order to sway white voters by falsely reporting the details of an execution he attended while Gov. of Arkansas. In the first chapter the author writes that in an effort to appeal to the white lower class voter,
"Bill Clinton vowed that he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he. True to his word, just weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, Clinton chose to fly home to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally impaired black man who had so little conception of what was about to happen to him that he asked for the dessert from his last meal to be saved for him until the morning."
At first glance I found this to be quite an appalling thing for the then Governor to focus on. It seemed as though some mentally impaired man had been a victim of his own impairment, possibly committing a crime he had no intention of committing or any knowledge of what he was actually doing, and that the state of Arkansas was about to murder him simply for being less intelligent than the general public. Alexander makes it sound as though this man was innocent. Her words lead you to believe Bill Clinton is the monster in this story and that Rector was the victim of racial prejudice.
What she didn't write, is that Ricky Rector murdered a man at a club because the bouncer wouldn't let his friend, who wouldn't pay the $3 cover charge, in to the building. Rector became angry, pulled a gun, and fired several shots at the bouncer, wounding two bystanders and killing one man instantly, after the man was struck in the throat and spine by Rector's .38 caliber revolver round. Rector fled the scene, evaded police for 3 days, and eventually agreed to surrender to a police officer he'd known since childhood. This police officer, Robert Martin, visited Rector at Rector's mother's house, where it was implied the surrender would occur. Once in the house, Robert Martin was eventually shot twice in the back by Rector, and died shortly after. Rector now had 2 assaults and 2 murder's on his list of pending charges. And by the way, he is not mentally impaired, at all. That comes next.
Rector, realizing his grievous error in life choices decides enough is enough and walks out the back of his mother's house, having just shot and killed Robert Martin, and puts the gun to his own head. He fires, but misses slightly. The round penetrates his skull, destroying his frontal lobe, but leaving him alive nonetheless. This is where his "mental impairment" begins.
This doesn't sound like much of a victim to me. This mental impairment the author appeals to is one of his own doing, and one resulting from a choice he made to kill himself after consciously deciding to fire several shots into a crowd of people and then intentionally killing an indefensible man. This sort of sweeping logic the author does in order to keep the dirt she want's out and the rest under the rug makes for a difficult and frustrating read. You want to agree with her on most points, but she blatantly misrepresents the facts on so many occasions that you end up writing amazon reviews to express your frustration.
This book started off okay, but it's false implications like this that show the author's intentions. While they are likely coming from a point of genuine concern, they are not in good faith, nor those of someone coming from an unbiased point of view. Read it, but don't just take it at it's word. Just like any other opinion.