The Tough-On-Crime Myth - Peter Elikann




Review by John Wilmerding.


Peter Elikann is a Boston criminal defense lawyer, author, and

former professional journalist. He has written recently for The

Boston Sunday Herald, the New Lawyer magazine, and Western New

England Law Review, and serves as a 'guest expert' resource on

justice issues to electronic media producers.


Elikann's 1996 book, _The_Tough-on-Crime_Myth_, is a no-holds-

barred, hard-hitting condemnation of today's 'conventional'

criminal justice system. It seems to me that it is prescient

(forward-looking) in the broad genre of CJ system-based writings

in that it explicitly advocates for moving away from incarcera-

tion on the grounds that it is a flawed response to crime in most

instances of its current usage.


This is one of the most important justice-analytical books of the

decade. What's particularly remarkable about it is that Elikann

(rhymes with 'pelican') doesn't do much in the way of citing

radical prison-abolition activists. He writes as one criminal

justice professional to another, and takes special care to expose

the self-admitted 'conventional wisdom' (or lack of same) within

the 'criminal' justice system itself. Hence, while Elikann does

not mention Restorative Justice at all (he published the book

'pre-CERJ'), _The_Tough-on-Crime_Myth_, is especially noteworthy

because it brings to a head the realization WITHIN THE SYSTEM

that conventional methods -- particularly incarceration -- are

extremely, and all too often unnecessarily, destructive.


Indeed, Elikann cites a very wide range of prestigious and

responsible sources, especially the lawyers, judges, police

officials, victims, and criminal justice researchers. Though it

does neglect the theoretical advances and new documentation done

over the past two years in the broad area of Restorative Justice,

Elikann's book strongly makes an *implied* or indirect case for

Equity-Restorative Justice. How? By clearly elucidating many of

the most serious -- even criminogenic -- problems with the system

the way it is.


By convincingly stating that "for far too long, prisons have been

too expensive and ineffective, only becoming revolving doors and

generating more crime," and more importantly, by documenting this

stance in terms and references that criminal justice system pro-

fessionals and politicians can understand, Peter Elikann has made

an invaluable contribution to the ever-rising tide of legitimate

political discontent with the criminal justice system, and has

helped swell the ranks of Equity-Restorative Justice advocates

and activists.


Peter Elikann is currently researching a new book on Juvenile

Justice. If the content of this current book is any indication,

the next one will be of critical specific importance to Equity-

Restorative Justice reform activists. Peter has expressed an

interest in documenting the importance of the Restorative Justice

movement in his further writings. If you would like to initiate

correspondence with him, I would release his email address



This well-bound 323-page hardcover tome, which retails for $25.95

US, is exhaustively researched; replete with over 500 footnoted

references. It is published by Insight Books: a division of

Plenum publishing corporation, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY

10013-1578. Within the USA, it may be ordered by calling




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