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Underground Codes: Race Crime, and Related Fires.

Underground Codes: Race Crime, and Related Fires by Katheryn Russell-Brown New York University Press, February 2004 $55.00, ISBN 0-814-77540-3

Katheryn Russell-Brown takes an evocative look at the role and function of race in the criminal justice system. The premise is that decisions made within the criminal justice system are affected by the race of the decision-makers. Russell-Brown posits that jury deliberations, police department policies and even Congressional intent are often based on unconscious racism, which in turn has created "underground codes" that form the basis of our criminal justice system. To cope with the dominant paradigm that these codes have helped to create, marginal populations--Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos--have adopted protective mechanisms.

These allow each group to institute a form of dignity to supplant what has been stripped away by society. Underground Codes is well written and thoroughly researched; a chapter on basic race and crime facts is included to provide readers with the tools to engage in informed conversations about race and justice. The author tackles a range of issues from the "negative" impact of gangsta rap to the marginalization of Native Americans. Her goal is to get people talking about race and crime with the hope of obliterating the imaginary connections between minorities and crimes and the self-fulfilling prophecies of those concocted links. Russell Brown is a tenured criminal law professor at the University of Florida's College of Law. With Underground Codes, she provides a platform for a national discussion on race and crime in America.

--Reviewed by Kalyn Johnson, a lawyer practicing in New York City.
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Author:Johnson, Kalyn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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