Charged by Emily Bazelon


A renowned investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America's mass incarceration crisis, and also offers a way out.The American criminal justice system is supposed to be a contest between two equal adversaries, the prosecution and the defense, with judges ensuring a fair fight. But in practice, it is prosecutors who have the upper hand, in a contest that is far from equal. More than anyone else,...

Details Charged

Release DateApr 16th, 2019
PublisherRandom House
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Law, Social Movements, Social Justice, Mystery, Crime, Audiobook

Reviews Charged

  • David Wineberg
    Americans like to think their criminal justice system is the fairest in the world, that innocents can’t be proven guilty because of all the constitutional protections in the system. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Emily Bazelon found in Charged. Her latest book looks at the justice system at the prosecutor level. It is a family tree of branches, many of them diseased or rotten. Both prosecutors and defendants can find themselves on ...
  • Christine
    Disclaimer: ARC via the publisher and Netgalley. The last time I did my civic duty of jury duty it was either the day after or day that Larry Krasner fired several lawyers for the DA’s office. It was an interesting day. I’m not sure why they didn’t just cancel us coming in. I tell you this so you know that I live in one of the cities that Bazelon writes about in her new book. According to the studies that Bazelon cites in her book, most Ame...
  • Darcia Helle
    The American criminal justice system is a mess. This really is an indisputable fact. For nearly a half century we've been fighting a War on Drugs, which has only succeeded in putting more drugs on the streets. We run prisons for profit, filling them with young black males and people too poor to afford bail and/or attorneys. We run a barter system with plea bargains, rather than a justice system with trials by jury. Nothing about what we do is fai...
  • Tonstant Weader
    Over a dozen years ago I was working on a report for a racial profiling campaign a coalition of organizations had organized. I came across a research study that looked at racial disparities in criminal justice from arrest to sentencing. I was surprised to see prosecutorial decisions, not overpolicing, identified as the most significant factor in racial disparities in incarceration. This sparked an unending interest in how we fight over-incarcerat...
  • Christian Santos
    It goes beyond adding a human voice to what so often gets labeled as “criminal”. It shows the distinction between political-action and translation into layers of judicial bureaucracy. As an individual that works in the judicial branch of local government, Bazelon has opened my perception on some of the rigmarole we do as law clerks. Even if you’re not a progressive; the true-crime pace this book reads at, provides valuable insight into our ...
  • Sophie Rayton
    A painfully important book. I had to go slowly with this because I couldn't handle the injustice for long stretches of time. Why do humans suck so much sometimes?! I'm glad this journalist is advocating for change and getting the message out there.
  • Shelley
    This is a hard book to read, but a necessary one. Our system is broken and there's not much political will to fix it. People are going to continue to suffer injustice--all I can say is my hat's off to my public defense bar colleagues. You're doing the work of the angels.
  • Amanda
    If you could only read one book on criminal justice reform, this would be the one I'd recommend. (Maybe in conjunction with Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal and/or The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, but if it's just one book, this is the one.) Prosecutors have incredible, essentially unchecked power in the American justice system, which m...
  • Katie
    A nonfiction book about overzealous prosecutors and how our current system of law (and how it's being interpreted, due to convention) ends up sending people to jail who are either innocent are guilty of crimes far more minor than the punishment assigned.The book highlights 2 case studies: one, a man named Kevin who "takes the fall" for a friend by claiming possession of a gun in the friend's apartment; and a girl named Noura who gets arrested for...
  • Louis
    Emily Bazelon’s Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration is the story of an evolution in prosecutorial strategy, from seeking maximum time and the era of mandatory minimums, to using discretion to decide whether a given defendant’s alleged crime really warrants incarceration. The story of Charged is told through a couple of individuals accused of crimes—one relatively minor and one serious—and...
  • Serge
    Compelling case for criminal justice reformThis is the best book that I have read all year. Years ago, I read Sticks and Stones and thought that Bazelon was among the most gifted writers of her generation. This book does not disappoint. Searing and bracing accounts of preventable injustice.
  • Laura
    Very interesting. It’s a bit simplified - by necessity, I believe. There are so many players in the criminal justice system and so many parts of the system that are broken. Some interesting ideas and points. It definitely made me think.
  • Audrey
    3.5 stars This is a timely and relevant read. Both Noura and Kevin were compelling people depicting the process and problems of the trial court system. I’m not sure who the target audience for this book is, whether it’s the lay person or the practitioner. It tries to do both and fall short. For the practitioner it humanizes with both Noura and Kevin went through but the history behind the system kind of dragged. The book picks up in the chapt...
  • Sally Kenney
    Wish I could give it six stars. Reminds me of The Lost Children of Wilder. She mixes riveting personal stories with legal analysis and social science to make a compelling case for reform.
  • Ashley
    Very persuasive argument on prosecutorial power and how the quickest path to ending mass incarceration is by changing the prosecutorial culture and limiting it's power.
  • Christina
    A journey through the prosecutor's ever-expanding role in the criminal justice system from start to finish, with detours into discussion about the progressive prosecutor movement that's started in several states (including mine!). For most of the book, Bazelon follows two young people through their engagement with the prosecution, from the initial charges to plea deals/imprisonment; by far these are the most interesting parts of the book, with No...
  • Lissa
    This book of investigative reporting looks at our judicial system and how the role of the prosecutor has increased over the years. Prosecutors have the power to withhold bail, increase charges and strong-arm defendants into plea deals. It is one of many problems within the U.S.'s criminal justice system but one that some reformed-minded district attorneys are attempting to fix. This is well written and researched and the author does a good job of...
  • Gerry
    Bazelon was a recent speaker at the Free Library of Philadelphia. I didn't get into the city to see her, but her book title piqued my interest, and I'm very glad to have read it. I learned a lot about the injustices of our justice system, which allows prosecutors a huge amount of leeway in deciding what charges to bring. It seems no single illegal act is simply against the law; it's against a multitude of laws, so that prosecutors can choose from...
  • Joe Kessler
    Overall a decent look at the shockingly wide latitude given to prosecutors in the American justice system. Journalist Emily Bazelon walks readers through how these figures are given great leeway in bringing and dropping criminal charges, yet are also shielded in many ways from punishment for any misconduct. She also touches on the post-2016 movement to elect progressive attorneys who will exercise more discretion and not view prison as an automat...
  • Marta
    I received an advance copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway."Charged" is a very interesting and eye-opening book about the power of prosecutors and their role in the criminal justice system. While I was familiar with the issue before, Bazelon does a very good job explaining the different issues and factors that play a role in prosecutors' power and lack of oversight. The book follows two individuals entangled in the criminal justice syst...
  • K.Haas
    “Charged” is an absolutely illuminating look at the American criminal justice system, exposing how prosecutors hold a lopsided amount of power in determining the fate of the accused. Journalist Emily Bazelon makes a strong argument that district attorneys hold more power than even judges in determining the outcome of a case, and that more oversight is needed to ensure defendants get a fair shake.Bazelon broaches everything from bail reform to...
  • Barbara Senteney
    This book is crammed with example of what tactics the District Attorney's Office does and gets away with on a day to day basis. I have no idea how it is for the rest of the world, but here in America defendants get railroaded everyday. By over zealous, attorneys trying to climb the ladder to a better job. Sometimes they just turn a blind eye to others corruption, and the planting of evidence , or blatant les. Does that make them any less responsi...
  • Jennie
    This was such a good book on so many levels. I think it would appeal to a wide variety of readers: ones new to and very familiar with the criminal justice system, both conservatives and liberals. Charged really digs deep into the state of the American prosecutor and the unreal power they wield for good or for evil. Bazelon follows the stories of two people charged with crimes in different states along with more general reporting about the kinds o...
  • Laura
    Excellent. But incredibly sad and depressing. If you are interested in criminal justice reform you should read this book because it details in great length - with two concrete examples - how two people were ill-treated by prosecutors and the legal system. Once we get this current maniac out of office perhaps, if democracy holds, we can elect a president who is actually interested in reforming the criminal justice system. This book made me good an...
  • Alexandria
    An interesting critique of prosecutors and prosecutorial discretion. I found it to be well-balanced and with a good mix of anecdotes and data. The appendix with reform suggestions and best practices was most helpful to me. Those already involved in the system can benefit more from concrete reform ideas - sadly we are already all too familiar with the ways the system can fail. Overall, an informative and enjoyable read.
  • Joseph
    Damning and yet still somehow hopeful. The story of Noura Jackson, wrongly convicted by an unethical Tennessee prosecutor who was protected from consequence by a political influence and utter shamelessness, is more sensational. But probably more important is the story of the pseudononymous Kevin, a young black man arrested with a gun whose tangle with the system somehow doesn’t ruin his life.