Unfair by Adam Benforado | Weaving Pages: Unfair by Adam Benforado

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Unfair by Adam Benforado

Hey lovelies!

Today's review is for all of you with an interest in law or psychology, because Unfair is all about the faults in our justice system, or more specifically how human bias can easily affect it too. So read on!
23364926Title: Unfair 
Author: Adam Benforado 
Series: n/a
Source: publisher
Publisher: Crown
Published: June 16th 2015
No. of Pages: 400

A child is gunned down by a police officer; an investigator ignores critical clues in a case; an innocent man confesses to a crime he did not commit; a jury acquits a killer. The evidence is all around us: Our system of justice is fundamentally broken. 
But it’s not for the reasons we tend to think, as law professor Adam Benforado argues in this eye-opening, galvanizing book. Even if the system operated exactly as it was designed to, we would still end up with wrongful convictions, trampled rights, and unequal treatment. This is because the roots of injustice lie not inside the dark hearts of racist police officers or dishonest prosecutors, but within the minds of each and every one of us.
This is difficult to accept. Our nation is founded on the idea that the law is impartial, that legal cases are won or lost on the basis of evidence, careful reasoning and nuanced argument. But they may, in fact, turn on the camera angle of a defendant’s taped confession, the number of photos in a mug shot book, or a simple word choice during a cross-examination. In Unfair, Benforado shines a light on this troubling new field of research, showing, for example, that people with certain facial features receive longer sentences and that judges are far more likely to grant parole first thing in the morning... (continued)
4.5 stars: Page agrees this book was wonderful, almost

To date, this has to be one of the most interesting books I've read. From the sheer amount of research in it to the brilliantly presented arguments, Unfair is a must-read for anyone interested in the justice system and its faults. When as a public, we often fall into the trap of believing our court rooms to be magical champions of law and order, this step-by-step analysis of where we are going wrong provides shocking but relevant information as to how easily justice is led astray by even the most well meaning of actions. The truth is hard, but conveyed skilfully and intelligently by Benforado,

Personally, I was hooked on this book from the beginning, my attention captured by how elements of the law and their interaction with psychology were resulting in biased and unlawful judgements. Instantly, Unfair served as a present reminder that the law is constantly changing as our society does, and thus will constantly require improvements; what works now, might now be relevant in 100 years.

Yet what is most hard-hitting about this book is the pressing reminder of just how much depends on the success of our justice systems, and often what precedes them. Unfair showed startling facts on how not only genetics can impact someone’s likelihood to commit a crime, but also their environment. We have a duty as a society to implement projects and plans that allow people to experience and live the best way possible. Maybe if we regulated guns, put more money into aiding deprived areas and instead encouraged children to study/read/have hobbies we could prevent so much crime. You can not expect someone to change the world if you do not give them the opportunity to do so in the first place. Certainly if you do not allow them to discover their interests and talents or even their importance in their community, the odds of them wanting to further these skills are slim. If they do not believe in themselves, if they cannot discover themselves because they simply don't have the opportunities, it is so much easier to fall into a life of violence and crime. When you look at things this way, you realise the amount of people that must be in our prisons who simply never got a chance to be different.

Of course, when you reach the area of law enforcement itself, there are many problems. Ultimately, this book shows the stark reality behind justice; to often it is a game. Procedural dramas don't attempt to make it a secret that often a game of strategy is the difference between being convicted or acquitted, yet they are almost too close to reality for it to be comfortable. With the defence and prosecution vying to win what can be career defining cases, injustice begins to seep through with evidence and facts omitted. 

Unfair makes a brilliant commentary that perhaps we forget that the importance of law is that we seek to act for justice. It’s shouldn't a matter of winning or pleasing someone, but the people in question must have the aim of reaching a fair conclusion from the evidence presented. This is a gross oversimplification, because by using people as lawyers you obviously leave things susceptible to human faults and emotions, namely dishonesty so as to win a case, or allowing a strong belief that the suspect is guilty to justify acts which obstruct the course of justice. Thus this books suggest how we could improve this. Maybe by impressing ethics and moral reminders upon our lawyers maybe we can reduce this, for example by having lawyers taking an oath before a trial. If a witness must do it, why not those making the case?

I am no expert in law myself, and perhaps this thinking is incredibly naive, but I realise it feels right. Benforado presents many different ways we could seek to eliminate that which is preventing completely fair processes throughout our justice system, and I admittedly do not agree with all of them. Whilst virtual court trials may remove human bias, I'm a strong believer that something vital would be lost if we omitted our perceptions and instincts from our reasoning. Most importantly, however, is that Unfair has made me realise that there is a desperate need for change. It does not have to be life changing or ground breaking, but small changes could make a huge difference to our system.

For those interested in law, specifically criminal law or even psychology, this is a book that will challenge your thoughts on the way we attempt to establish the rule of law and how it can be improved. I would a hundred percent recommend it to you.

rita xo

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