Scant Documentation Makes A Weaker Case. First, I generally agree with the author’s overall points here, even while disagreeing with his more leftist slants on a lot of his recommendations – unionizing prison inmates among them. But even in cases such as here where I generally agree, I have a history of judging a book based on the actual merits of the actual arguments and verifications therein, and this book simply doesn’t hold up. Its Bibliography (at least in the Advance Review Copy form) is barely 15% of the text, which is about half the norm and maybe 1/3 the length of the Bibliography of truly well documented treatises. And while the author’s career experience as a litigating attorney can account for some of it, even here – provide at least some documentation for your claims, so that those who *don’t* have that background can verify them. But the lack of documentation is the primary argument here for overall lack of persuasiveness. Furthermore, another star was deducted for ultimately not satisfying the overall premise as laid out in the description – which admittedly is a combined effort of both author and publisher, and not always in the author’s hands. Still, the description here proposes that the book argues that plea bargaining “produces a massive underclass of people who are restricted from voting, working, and otherwise participating in society”… and while Canon occassionally makes reference to this, he never really establishes that particular line of reasoning here. Indeed, for *that* side of the criminal justice system there really are a few other vastly superior texts that have released over the last few years. Instead, Canon more takes these as a given – again, with little documentation – and argues – with little documentation – that plea bargaining is the chief cause of this. As stated at the beginning of this review, while I *generally* agree with this line of reasoning, I simply expect a better documented (and ultimately more evenly argued) presentation of this, particularly in a book released to a wide audience, including those who may be predisposed to *not* agreeing with the argument for any number of reasons. Still, ultimately a worthy read that at least adds yet another voice to the conversation, and for that reason it is very much recommended.
This review of Pleading Out by Dan Canon was originally written on February 28, 2022.