, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 583–584 | Cite as

Mona Lynch, Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court

New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2016. 206 pp. $29.95. ISBN: 978–0871545114
  • James L. NolanJr
Book Review

In Hard Bargains: The Coercive Power of Drug Laws in Federal Court, social psychologist Mona Lynch offers a comparative analysis of drug cases in three distinct federal districts, which she pseudonymously calls Northeastern, Southeast, and Southwestern Districts. Lynch’s multi-method approach yields illuminating findings on several important developments in the United States criminal justice system: the exponential growth in the number of drug convictions populating America’s prison system, the expansion in the number of plea-bargained cases (i.e., the so-called “disappearing trial”), and the power shift from judges to prosecuting attorneys in adjudicating criminal cases. She finds that, in federal drug cases, judges often have little discretion and are compelled to impose long sentences that seem disproportional to the severity of the offense. Such outcomes are fostered, in part, by the strategies of district attorneys, who, influenced by the peculiar accents of their local legal...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology & SociologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

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