Crook County

Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court

by

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780804790437
  • 9780804799201

Winner of the 2017 Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Finalist for the C. Wright Mills Book Award, sponsored by the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

Winner of the 2017 Oliver Cromwell Cox Book Award, sponsored by the American Sociological Association's Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities.

Winner of the 2017 Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book, sponsored by the American Sociological Association's Sociology of Culture Section.

Honorable Mention in the 2017 Book Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Race, Class, and Gender.

NAACP Image Award Nominee for an Outstanding Literary Work from a debut author.

Winner of the 2017 Prose Award for Excellence in Social Sciences and the 2017 Prose Category Award for Law and Legal Studies, sponsored by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers.

Silver Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (Current Events/Social Issues category).

Americans are slowly waking up to the dire effects of racial profiling, police brutality, and mass incarceration, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities of color. The criminal courts are the crucial gateway between police action on the street and the processing of primarily black and Latino defendants into jails and prisons. And yet the courts, often portrayed as sacred, impartial institutions, have remained shrouded in secrecy, with the majority of Americans kept in the dark about how they function internally. Crook County bursts open the courthouse doors and enters the hallways, courtrooms, judges' chambers, and attorneys' offices to reveal a world of punishment determined by race, not offense.

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve spent ten years working in and investigating the largest criminal courthouse in the country, Chicago–Cook County, and based on over 1,000 hours of observation, she takes readers inside our so-called halls of justice to witness the types of everyday racial abuses that fester within the courts, often in plain sight. We watch white courtroom professionals classify and deliberate on the fates of mostly black and Latino defendants while racial abuse and due process violations are encouraged and even seen as justified. Judges fall asleep on the bench. Prosecutors hang out like frat boys in the judges' chambers while the fates of defendants hang in the balance. Public defenders make choices about which defendants they will try to "save" and which they will sacrifice. Sheriff's officers cruelly mock and abuse defendants' family members.

Crook County's powerful and at times devastating narratives reveal startling truths about a legal culture steeped in racial abuse. Defendants find themselves thrust into a pernicious legal world where courtroom actors live and breathe racism while simultaneously committing themselves to a colorblind ideal. Gonzalez Van Cleve urges all citizens to take a closer look at the way we do justice in America and to hold our arbiters of justice accountable to the highest standards of equality.

Delve deeper into Crook County with related media and instructor resources.

  • Stanford University Press; May 2016
  • ISBN: 9780804799201
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: Crook County
  • Author: Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve
  • Imprint: Stanford Law Books
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780804790437
  • 9780804799201

In The Press

Urgent and important, Crook County is a powerful, eye-opening account of the code of the big-city court system. Carefully dissecting this crucial step of the 'school to prison pipeline,' Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve illustrates just how the scales of justice are cynically stacked against black and brown inner city young people, undermining their faith in our criminal justice system. Crook County is a must-read."

About The Author

Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve is an Assistant Professor at Temple University in the Department of Criminal Justice, with courtesy appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Beasley School of Law. She is a recipient of the 2014-2015 Ford Foundation Fellowship, an affiliated scholar with the American Bar Foundation, and a former Research Director for Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice. She has provided legal commentary on the criminal justice system for MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, NBC News, CNN, and The New York Times.