Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review: Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy (Audio)

This book is shocking, horrifying, and everyone ought to read it.

Ms. Leovy takes the story of the death of one nineteen-year-old African-American in a bad neighborhood in Los Angeles, and extrapolates from it to indict the entire justice system and policing system for how race and crime have been inextricably twisted together in this country.

Bryant it turns out was no gang-banger, in fact he was the son of a police officer. And because of that, his case, which under ordinary circumstances would have gotten  cursory look and been dismissed as unsolvable, was solved. And the police don't do this because they're uncaring--homicide detectives have a thankless job--but because of the sheer volume of the work, not to mention the uncooperativeness of witnesses and the lack of usable evidence. But the officers in this case, particular Detective Skaggs, prove that nearly every case is solvable with enough dogged determination. In fact, regardless of the parentage of the victims, he has an insanely high level of solved cases despite working in a district where the vast majority are not solved.

Mostly this is a work of sociology, as Ms. Leovy delves into the factors that have lead us to where we are. Counterintuitively, a huge part of the problem is a lack of effective policing in bad neighborhoods, and we all know another big problem is a lack of opportunities for young black men. Parts of this book mad me furious, parts made me want to cry, and parts made me proud. It's hard for a book to do all of these things, and to be readable and thoroughly researched as well, but Ghettoside does it. Go read it now. I'll wait.

I checked this e-audiobook out of the library.

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