David Anderson

David C. Anderson is author of Sensible Justice: Alternatives to Prison and Crime
and the Politics of Hysteria: How the Willie Horton Story Changed
American Justice

Recent Articles

Smoking Guns

The street guy told the dealer he needed some guns to replace one he had lost the previous Saturday. The dealer was sympathetic. Were you caught with the gun? he wanted to know. No, the man said. He had run and hadn't been caught, but along the way he ditched the gun and the cops got it. Now he wanted new guns because he had figured out who had "ratted me out" to the police, he said, and he had to "settle up." They agreed on replacement guns and the dealer said to come back in a few days to pick them up.

Policing the Police

A few years ago in the city of Los Angeles, attorneys Donald W. Cook and Robert Mann brought a series of lawsuits on behalf of people bitten by police dogs. The lawyers argued that the victims, mostly suspects fleeing or hiding from police, were bitten while unarmed and already surrounded, sometimes even handcuffed; the dog attacks constituted a gratuitous use of force. These were not easy cases to win. Juries tend to sympathize with police and their dogs more than with criminals fleeing arrest for burglary or auto theft. But Cook and Mann persisted, offering chilling videotape of an actual dog attack and pointing out the disproportionate number of serious injuries that resulted from arrests accomplished with the help of dogs.

When Should Kids Go to Jail?

For nearly a century, childhood has been a mitigating condition in the eyes of the criminal law. Now that legislators want to try more children as adults, we need to be careful about throwing the baby out with the jail key.