To Punish and Protect: A DA's Fight Against a System That Coddles Criminals

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9780312316495: To Punish and Protect: A DA's Fight Against a System That Coddles Criminals

"The office of the district attorney is a battleground, where the fight between good and evil unfolds each day. We see the ugliest side of life, the pain that people go through for no reason. They didn't do anything. They didn't ask for it. Yet here they are, living their personal nightmares. We cannot take away their pain, or turn back time to undo the damage, but we can be the avengers. We can seek justice on their behalf."

So begins this riveting account by Westchester County District Attorney, Jeanine Pirro, as she takes us inside the violent world of modern crime fighting. Before Pirro was elected DA in 1993, the job was always considered a man's domain, demanding a macho toughness. Pirro can be as tough as any man, and yet she adds an important new dimension to the role. She believes that being tough on crime means much more than just filling the jails. She goes beyond her role to punish criminals, to be a passionate advocate for the victims of crime.

In To Punish and Protect, Pirro brings readers face to face with the gruesome realities of her daily battles, and tells the true, heartbreaking stories of the victims - the slaughter of a young woman and her two children by a jealous, enraged boyfriend; a teenage girl forced to assume wifely duties after her father murdered her stepmother; a nine-year-old boy chained to a radiator in a dark room and nearly starved to death, as the rest of the family went about its business; a gentle, hardworking man shot fatally in a dispute over a parking place, because he was black; an eighty-year-old woman, savagely beaten by her son and left for two days on the cold floor of her apartment; a beautiful woman whose wealth and privilege could not prevent her murder at the hands of a violent husband; and a group of young girls lured into a sexual nightmare by a cunning predator posing as a trustworthy youth counselor.

Pirro presents hard truths about the ways in which parents, communities, and the justice system share complicity in fostering an environment of danger to our children. She describes the dark world of Internet pedophiles and hate mongers, who are allowed to hide behind First Amendment protections to gain access to kids in their own bedrooms. She offers a harsh judgment on parents who fail to address the deadly consequences of teen drinking, and even host keg parties in their homes, while alcohol continues to take young lives and destroy families.

Pirro delivers a bold indictment of the criminal justice system, and asks whether we as a nation are truly committed to justice. Increasingly, she warns, our laws, attitudes, and behaviors seem to be veering away from what we say is our moral core as a nation. We say that we exalt good and punish evil, yet we do the opposite. We turn criminals into celebrities, and view victims with suspicion. If we're going to make our communities safer and our society less violent, we need to do more than just pay lip service to our ideals. To Punish and Protect challenges us to have the will and the courage to wage war on the predators roaming our streets, and to avenge their victims.

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About the Author:

Jeanine Ferris Pirro is the District Attorney of Westchester County, New York. Now serving her third, four-year term in office, Pirro began her career in law enforcement as a prosecutor in Westchester more than twenty-five years ago. In 1978, she headed the county's first domestic violence unit, one of only four in the nation. Later, she was elected the first woman jurist to sit on the Westchester County Court bench. Pirro's High Technology Crimes unit has garnered nationwide attention for its undercover stings against pedophiles and child pornographers who use the Internet to prey on children. To date, over 70 arrests have been made, with a conviction rate of 100%. Pirro lives in Westchester with her husband and two children.

Catherine Whitney is a New York writer, and has co-written many books on legal, political, and social issues.

From Publishers Weekly:

Westchester County District Attorney Pirro, writing with Whitney, declares her hatred of violent crime and brutal criminals in this book of essays. After nearly 30 years as a prosecutor, Pirro sees herself at the center of a battleground of good vs. evil; she has no doubt of her rectitude. She and her assistants are the avengers who seek justice on behalf of crime victims, often ignored or marginalized by the criminal justice system. The book's chapters focus on the most horrific imaginable crimes, from sexual predation directed against children to spousal murder, from elder abuse to hate crimes. For each type of atrocity, Pirro cites examples drawn from her prosecutorial experience. Throughout, she empathizes with the victims and their families, comforting them and advocating expanded public services to help them heal. She also urges reforms of the criminal justice system, such as eliminating the insanity defense from the guilt phase of criminal trials and modifying the presumption of innocence so that bail can be denied to persons accused of heinous crimes. Pirro also favors the death penalty (although she decided not to seek it in 10 of 11 death-eligible cases she has handled as district attorney). This book serves several purposes: to stoke public consciousness of crime and contempt for criminals, to mobilize support for toughening the penal laws and to position the author as a remorselessly angry crusader. As she states, hers is an elected position, and a book such as this will serve the author well as campaign literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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