Vanderbilt Law Review

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Book Reviews

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Fair and Certain Punishment

Review by Frank J. Remington

Punishing Criminals. By Ernest van den Haag. New York: BasicBooks, Inc., 1975. Thinking About Crime. By James Q. Wilson. New York: BasicBooks, Inc., 1975.

Times change. So also do opinions about important social problems such as crime and government's response to crime. The books of both van den Haag and Wilson reflect changing opinions on crime and on what to do about crime. Both urge that we abandon the view that social conditions are an important cause of crime and that an improvement in social conditions will reduce crime substantially.Both urge that we give much less emphasis to the objective of rehabilitating those who commit crime. Rehabilitation is, in their view, a largely unrealistic goal. Both call for the minimization of discretion on the part of the sentencing judge and the virtual elimination of the parole board. This latter objective would be made possible by the abandonment of the indeterminate sentence.


The Crisis of Conservative Virginia: The Byrd Organization and the Politics of Massive Resistance. By James W. Ely, Jr. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976. Pp. vii, 220. $13.50.

Reviewed by George B. Tindall

All in all, Ely has given a sound and convincing account of Virginia's political upheaval. It lacks some of the color of human drama to be found in other accounts, for instance Smith's story of the school closing in Prince Edward-Negroes, in fact, seldom come on-stage in Ely's story any more than they came on the main stage of Virginia politics. Ely, however, writing in a spare and readable style, has given us the most thorough factual account now available, along with a persuasively realistic interpretation.