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Arrest-Proof Yourself, by Dale Carson and Wes Denham

(Chicago Review Press, 2007). 282 pages (paperback), $14.95.

Book review by John E. Dannenberg

In short, Arrest-Proof Yourself is a colorfully-written manual on how to avoid being arrested. The book’s principal thesis is a hypothetical “electronic plantation” where all persons who are arrested – even if later exonerated – must serve an irrevocable life sentence of being blacklisted from future employment, socially ostracized, etc. as a result of their arrest record. The book is written in street language to garner the attention of younger people who, statistically, are more likely to face arrest. The authors emphatically counsel the reader, wherever possible, to simply avoid being seen by the police; but if stopped, they provide advice on how to act and, more importantly, how not to act.

Authors Carson and Denham speak from years of experience: Carson was a former police officer in both state and federal jurisdictions while Denham is a private investigator. Carson, now a defense attorney, today defends the very people who, in Arrest-Proof Yourself, he tries to prevent from needing his services. Throughout the book the authors speak about how police officers love to arrest people, which not only makes them happy but also improves their job performance reviews. Accordingly, police are not motivated to help little old ladies cross the street but rather to arrest as many people as they can. The means by which people are targeted for arrest, and whether they are arrested following a police stop, are the central topics of Arrest-Proof Yourself.

Those targeted for arrest are not the rich and famous, who have good attorneys and money to influence prosecution decisions, but rather the average person who is less educated and lacks street smarts. Those are the people who comprise the millions arrested each year for misdemeanors, traffic violations and petty crimes – mostly non-violent offenses. Arrest-Proof Yourself examines why they are even stopped by police officers, let alone arrested.

Most people are not arrested for something they do in plain view of the police but for incidental things during the course of a routine stop and search. This commonly occurs when people are pulled over in vehicle stops – such as for a defective brake light – and an incidental search reveals drugs, weapons or stolen property in plain sight. If the suspect doesn’t have a good attitude, can’t produce ID, registration or insurance, is in the “wrong neighborhood,” has outstanding unpaid tickets or warrants, or has medication without a copy of the doctor’s prescription, then he or she is likely to be arrested rather than receive a citation. And that arrest record, standing alone, will destroy the person’s otherwise clean record for all time due to the ubiquitous online data that follows everyone wherever they go; those once upstanding citizens are consigned forever to the “electronic plantation.”

Arrest-Proof Yourself is written in an arrogant style, demonstrating through the authors’ experience the nature of police officers to arrest as many people as possible. The treatment of suspects is described as demeaning, revealing an unfair and biased arrest process that primarily targets the less fortunate and impoverished. Although published in 2007, this book provides information that remains timely today and is a sobering wake-up call. Arrest-Proof Yourself is available in PLN’s bookstore on page 62 of this issue.

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