american-justice-largeAccording to recent stats, crime went up last year in most states in most categories, including homicides, robberies, car thefts, hate crimes against Muslims, and assaults against police officers.  The news has featured the growing number of mass murders around America – some due to revenge, others due to severe mental illness or the acts of terrorists.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in America has been overwhelmed by a decades-long uptick in crime and is not up to the task which it is designated to do: keep us safe from criminals and protect its good, law-abiding citizens.  As American Justice?, a new book by Paul Brakke reveals through a first-person memoir and researched look at how criminal justice works today, the system is fatally flawed.

Compared to numbers of arrests and cases, actual trials have become an endangered species.  Not only is the system poorly equipped to respond to the growing number of criminals who are charged with crimes by the police, but it disproportionately impacts lower income people and people of color, who don’t have the money to defend themselves.  Moreover, middle income people caught up in the system can face daunting odds and expenses in trying to fight any charges, much less false ones brought by ambitious prosecutors and hostile complainants and witnesses.

That’s what happened to Paul Brakke and his wife Carol, after some local kids falsely accused Carol of trying to run one of them over, since they didn’t like her interfering with their play at a dangerous intersection. Based on their false accusations and lies by neighbors who wanted to get the Brakkes out of the neighborhood, Carol became a victim of psychological warfare. She endured an involuntary commitment to a psych ward, two psychological evaluations, exile from her home, delays in setting a trial date, and the threat of a 16-year jail term, leading her to experience a nervous breakdown. These circumstances forced the Brakkes to agree to move out of their home to another community as part of a plea bargain in which all charges relating to aggravated assault were dropped.

The Brakkes were actually fortunate, since they could afford the financial costs that rained down on them (well over $100,000). But the increase in crime has filled the prisons with low-income and mostly black defendants, who have not had the means to afford bail and hire their own private lawyers. Or these defendants were assigned defense attorneys who didn’t have the time or ability to provide a good defense. So they ended up spending a much longer time in jail or prison, which runs up their costs.

American Justice? offers a series of suggestions on what to do to improve the system. For example, the book suggests ways to reduce the high rate of incarceration, such as by shortening the length of sentences and using more half-way houses, home detention, community service, and workfare programs for non-violent offenders. Other suggestions are on ways to deal with the growing conflict between the police and inner city residents, with prosecutorial misconduct, with poor judicial behavior, and with collateral damage to families when a family member becomes embroiled in a criminal case.

The book is designed to get a national dialogue going about how to best reform the criminal justice system, by first describing Carol and Paul’s harrowing experience, followed by Paul’s discussion of problems in the criminal justice system and recommendations on resolving those problems. In this way, the book is designed to both help readers and their families from becoming victims, and it discusses how to improve the system to make ours a better country and a more just society.

The book is available through Amazon 

Copies of the book are also available in PDF format to members of the press.
For more information, please contact:

TouchPoint Press at for multiple copies
Paul Brakke at for questions about his experiences with the system.
Paul Brakke at or Gini Graham Scott at for questions about the system or the book’s relationship to current events