The book Courtroom 302 is a detailed analysis of the American Criminal Justice system. Written by author Steve Bogira, the book documents the insights and observations made by him during his tenure as a crime reporter for the Chicago Reader and later during his job as a police reporter. The book in question focusses on interesting and important criminal events in the year 1998 at a Cook County Felony courthouse and jail in Southern Chicago. One of the themes of the book is the systemic flaws in the nation’s criminal justice system, whereby, unjust and unfair sentences are dished out to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such an assessment might shake someone’s belief in the nations major institutions, but is nevertheless a sad truth. Bogira asserts that the justice system, along with the police department and the legislatures, combine to suppress dissenting voices and calls for positive change in the system. As it is, the criminal justice system is structured in such a way that the rich and the powerful have lesser chance of handed harsh punishments, whereas a larger proportion of minorities and the poor end up in jails.
Since the author uses everyday events and examples, it makes his account more realistic and credible. For me personally, the book has been an illuminating experience, for without it, I would have remained ignorant about the way our criminal justice system operates. Reading the book has definitely saddened me about the state of vital instituutions in the country. But Bogira also includes in the book examples of honest and sincere jurors and police officers, who adhere to noble values despite the risks. Hence, rather then getting dejected by its sombre and gloomy thesis, one can take courage from exceptions to the rules of the system. I recommend this book for all those interested in criminology, sociology, law and politics.
Bogira, Steve, Courtroom 302, Published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2005.