Lucky: Crime and Criminal Justice

The book Lucky written by Alice Sebold, told the story of her rape and her life before and after it, including parts of the trial and criminal justice system. Her rape happened in 1981 in Syracuse, New York. My initial reaction to the beginning of the book was not good, but after reading the book I have changed my mind. I had a few problems with some of the issues that arose during the trial such as how she was treated by the prosecutors and that she asked for the maximum sentence during the presentencing investigation. I also learned some more interesting facts about the law side of the criminal justice system.

At first I loathed how the book seemed to jump around from after the rape to before the rape. I like books or readings to be a chronological order for the most part. I didn’t mind the spaces in the times so much after the beginning of the book because it did take months for her to go back to school or to see her rapist again. That is understandable and I understand why it was written the way it was, I just didn’t enjoy the first part. I was enticed to read about Lila’s rape and thought it was sad how she treated Alice. I also thought it was sad how she decided to cope with the rape.

It was not very nice of the officers to keep focusing on Alice and maybe that was a reason that Lila acted the way she did. I thought it was awful how Alice was treated by the prosecutors during the whole process. I know that the prosecutors were representing Madison, but I don’t think they needed to treat Alice so crappy. I think it is important to have someone there for you as a victim, so when the rape counselor was not allowed, it was infuriating. Although Alice did not appreciate the counselor as much as other individuals, I still think she had a right to have one there with her.

I also severely dislike the way she was treated during the trial. It is no wonder that victims decide not to testify. Recounting the event would be bad enough, but then to be badgered by the prosecutors makes it even worse. I felt like Paquette was just going in circles with no reason or point to his questioning other than to be confusing. If making a victim look crazy is what our criminal justice system boils down to then we are all doomed. At one time I thought trials were to seek justice for the crimes that have been committed, but apparently they aren’t.

After learning about sentencing in other classes and learning about the correctional system, I see a major problem with her asking for the maximum sentence. I understand that as a victim, she wanted retribution more than anything else, but it is not conducive for society as a whole. Most likely, Madison will learn more criminal ways while he is in prison and when he is released, he will commit more crimes in society. I don’t think knowing that it could potentially harm another person, Alice would have made the same choice. Although by locking him up, he cannot commit crimes in society either.

I feel like there should be a better way to handle this. I used to be like Alice in that I thought all criminals should be sentenced to very long terms because that will make them commit less crime, I was wrong and now understand that. I did not know that defendants had so many rights. I mean, it goes without saying that they have the rights given to them by the Constitution and the Amendments, but some of the rights that Madison made use of were new to me. I did not know that a defendant could have a ‘friend’ with them during a line-up.

I initially thought that this was a low tactic used by desperate people, but after thinking about it, I understand. Just like Alice should have had the right to have the rape counselor, Madison should have also been allowed someone that made him more comfortable. I don’t think that his rights were more important than Alice’s rights however. I felt like he was given more legal rights because he was the accused. I also did not know that he could request a closed trial. I thought that this also hurt Alice more than it helped anyone else.

Again, I thought that Alice should be allowed the same, if not more rights than the accused. Overall, I liked the book because it gave a new perspective on what it is like to be a victim of this type of crime. It also put to rest more rape myths and showed that many people just did not understand what Alice went through. I think I would recommend this book to other people if they were not afraid to read someone that is very blunt about rape. I know that some people probably couldn’t handle the first chapter because of the rape.