Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 19, 1997), 256 pages
So just as I was about to condemn all books that have catchy titles, I come across this one. We all know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and title. I learned that I also shouldn’t judge a book by its author’s TV show. A court session on TV? Just another reality tv show right? Ive seen only a few episodes of Judge Judy and I can’t help but think that the ‘cases’ were very trivial, and were just hyped by a super sharp tongued judge, and a super reactive audience. I was amazed by Judge Judy Sheindlin’s no hesitation, no holds barred approach to telling off those that have wrongfully crossed family laws.
The book offers the same approach. No beating around the bush, no lengthy introductions. She goes straight to the topic of the book: How American law is pretty much skewed and can be ‘criminal-friendly’ (and that is coming from a Judge).
If there is a simple term to describe Sheindlin, it is: Fed Up. She is fed up by a society that produces a more violent generation after another. And more fed up by laws that, because it was drafted to protect the people, can be turned around and be moved in favor of the criminal. Such as investigations for a juvenile case not being carried out because of certain ‘juvenile criminal rights’–a lawyer refusing to have his client’s (defendant) fingerprints taken.
“Look at it this way: We fingerprint honest people at work for security reasons. Why all the reistance to identifying people who break the law? “
She’s also noted that juvenile crimes from the 70’s until the present have progressed to a worse level. Back then, car vandalizing were one of the more serious crimes teens can commit. But now, children steal, rape and kill.
That is also one of the personal questions I myself have: Are crimes of all sorts becoming too rampant and common that we have actually become a very tolerant society? Are we becoming too open to changes of time that we view juvenile crimes as normal nowadays?
“Somehow. we have permitted irresponsible behavior to be socially acceptable and have set up an elaborate bureaucracy that encourages lack of individual repsonsibility, thereby ensuing the longevity of both.”
She believes that in America, the government takes care of its people too much (?)–(though this is, I think a very subjective point of view) hence the people do not help themselves and just solely rely on welfare:
“Part of the problem is that too many people have come to expect too much from the government. And the assorted social service systems, however well intentioned, are crumbling under the sheer numbers of people who look to government first, instead of relying on themselves and focusing on government as a last resort. By shifting the emphasis from individual responsibility to government responsibility, we have infantalized an entire populaiton.”
Undeniably, she has a point. But it seemed abit too elitist when she suggested that the government shouldn’t provide welfare for teenage mothers, because “that’s what the relatives/family are for”. If this is her ideal set-up then she should go to the Philippines where all illegitimate children are born and raised without any help from the government!
People will always find loopholes in policies. Like how, in the state of New York, there’s a preference over relatives/grandparents being eligible for adopting/being foster parents of an abandoned child. The relative will recieve full welfare for the child, as long as they can prove that the child really was abandoned by the parent. Naturally, this is what some famillies do: they declare child abandonment, welfare goes to the grandmother(or whoever relative), but the mother is also around, only becoming invisible when the social worker comes to check.
And as a chain reaction, that’s where the child learns how to decieve: at home, even in small ways. Telling the child to say that “Mom is not around” because the social worker is going to check in a few hours. She believes in teaching your child how to respect and be scared of the law is important in raising a law abiding citizen.
What she lacks in data and statistics in her book, she makes up for no-nonsense discussion on what goes on in the real world of family court justice.
Despite her almost too tyranical views on carrying harsher punishments for juvenile delinquents and abhoring the welfare system, this is I think the first time Ive ever felt positive about a book. (Not about the subject). This book is highly recommended for anyone who would like to understand how the law works and how further juvenile crimes can be prevented. More importantly, Im positive that this book may encourage responsibility and self-reliance.
“If you want to eat, you have to work.
If you have children, you’d better support them
If you break the law, you have to pay
If you tap the public purse, you’d better be accountable.”