Justice Rules

Fiction - Womens
318 Pages
Reviewed on 04/16/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Justice Rules by Janet Sierzant is a deeply nuanced look at the criminal justice system in America and the unequal treatment of women offenders within it. Justine Morgan had made some bad decisions in her young life but by far the worst of those was to fall in love with a charming man who would ultimately lead her into a world of trouble and crime. A law student at university, Justine was heading toward her desired goal of becoming a lawyer when Carl sat down beside her one day in her statistics class. Love and naiveté allowed Justine to meekly surrender her dreams, drop out, and blindly follow Carl wherever he commanded. When Carl and an accomplice pull off an armed robbery, she finds herself unwittingly driving the getaway car. Tried as an accomplice to armed robbery, Justine quickly finds herself incarcerated in federal prison for five years. Bewildered and lost, how is a middle-class, privileged, white girl going to survive in the harsh environment of the U.S. Federal prison system?

Justice Rules is a simple story with a relevant underlying message. Author Janet Sierzant has used this narrative to starkly outline and highlight the many inconsistencies and inherent biases against women in the criminal justice system in America. Justine was someone who didn’t naturally conform to the characterization of many of her co-inmates and she highlights these inconsistencies and the institutionalized sexism inherent in the system. Well-educated and from a loving home, she differed starkly from the many women she would meet and ultimately empathize with inside. The fact that the prison had a warden who genuinely cared about rehabilitation and was prepared to help Justine make small differences in these women’s lives was paramount to her achieving anything. I appreciated that, for Justine, this experience changed her life fundamentally and she was inspired to commit her professional future to helping women caught in an impossible situation. Perhaps most telling of the injustices was the frequency with which “accomplices,” usually women, were treated with more harshness, especially in sentencing, than the men who had committed the crime, as they were often able to bargain for lighter sentences by providing information to authorities. This is a wonderful example of fiction being used well to highlight inequalities and unfairness in the real world. I highly recommend this excellent read.

K.C. Finn

Justice Rules is a work of fiction penned by author Janet Sierzant in the crime, interpersonal drama, and women’s fiction subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. The novel follows the story of Justine Morgan, who becomes entangled in her boyfriend's criminal activities, leading her into the labyrinth of the penal system. Despite her innocence, Justine is convicted and sentenced to five years in state prison with no chance of parole. Inside prison walls, she discovers a community of fellow inmates who have lost all hope, prompting her to become their advocate.

Author Janet Sierzant has crafted a highly engaging work that masterfully portrays the challenges faced by individuals like Justine, who find themselves ensnared in a web of circumstances beyond their control. The novel delves into themes of love, loyalty, and resilience in the face of adversity, and it does so in a wonderfully balanced way that makes the best of the different genres and moods it touches upon to get the most emotive moments out of every chapter. The character work is also second to none, with strong speech and thought presentation that lets us sit right on the shoulders of our heroine as she faces challenge after challenge. Sierzant's vivid storytelling and compelling characters kept me engrossed from start to finish, sparking introspection about societal issues and the importance of empathy and advocacy with the confident narrative voice and unique emotive portrayal of Justine’s journey. Overall, Justice Rules is a powerful narrative that resonates long after the final page, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of gripping and eye-opening tales of injustice.

Foluso Falaye

Justine Morgan's exciting love story becomes a nightmare when she's forced to commit a crime and is punished for it. It's hard to convince the judge that you're not guilty when you're caught behind the wheel of the getaway car during an armed robbery involving your lover. Though she finds herself facing five years in prison, Justine endeavors to make the best of her situation and maintain her generous and empathetic spirit. Her conversation with fellow prisoners reveals that many of them are the unfortunate victims of abusive and manipulative men. Whether she's studying law, starting a prison yoga class, or giving love another chance with a handsome lawyer, Justine endeavors to learn from her mistakes and make better life choices. Justice Rules by Janet Sierzant is a deeply captivating and touching story about women in prison and a flawed justice system.

Despite being about felons, the book includes some inspiring and magical themes: redemption, empathy, yoga, listening, healing, and more. Also, the love relationship between Justine and the lawyer representing her proves to be an exciting addition since it thrills readers with passionate moments and adorable confessions. Characterization is another feature that the author nails in Justice Rules. Justine's determination to study law in prison and help others get justice portrays her as a kind and courageous soul. I absolutely loved her. Justice Rules is not just an intriguing, poignant story but also an enlightening read that focuses on the plight of convicted women. From murder stories to deceitful acts and false accusations, I found several stories heartbreaking, knowing that similar experiences exist in real life. Janet Sierzant's compelling characters, poignant moments, and suspenseful twists will have you completely hooked from start to finish. I strongly recommend it!

Kathi Nidd

Justine Morgan is a privileged and smart young woman with loving parents who hopes to attend law school and make a difference in the world. While sitting in class one day, Carl, a charming man, captivates Justine. Against her parents' judgment, she begins a romantic relationship, lured by Carl's smooth charm. In Janet Sierzant's Justice Rules, the naive Justine is thrust into a situation as an accomplice to an armed robbery. Following an unfair trial and biased legal system, Justine soon finds herself behind bars with a quick entry into the life of a prisoner. As she embarks on her five-year sentence, Justine learns the many stories of the inmates surrounding her. But Justine's unstoppable character pushes forward against many barriers to help the women around her.

Janet Sierzant's Justice Rules has an intriguing storyline with strong undertones of the social injustices that mar the women's penal system. As Justine adapts to life in prison, there is a strong growth in her character as she moves from her sheltered view of the world to the realities she now faces amid her new group of friends and foes. The stories of each woman's background and the injustices perpetrated against them are vividly described with deep emotion, creating a heartbreaking read. Sierzant underlies the story with rarely discussed truths that caused me to re-think my own opinions of female criminals and the narrow-minded and patriarchal legal history that drives our system today. This novel is a refreshing change from most contemporary fiction due to its little-explored subject matter and the array of unique characters. A wonderful and inspiring read. It is extremely thought-provoking and I was inspired by Justine's never give up attitude!

Ronél Steyn

Janet Sierzant brings us fiction focusing on important social issues in Justice Rules. When Justine Morgan has to exchange her normal clothing for standard-issued prisoner garb, reality sinks in. How could falling in love land her in Martin County Prison? Justine was studying law when she met Carl Davis. He was charming and romantic, knowing exactly what to say to pull Justine further down a dark hole. Even her parents didn’t approve of their relationship. When Justine ends up forced to be the getaway driver in an armed robbery gone wrong, she has to pay the price and is convicted. Will she be able to prove her innocence from behind bars? And what about the other women in prison who need similar help?

Author Janet Sierzant has created a sobering interpretation of the legal system in Justice Rules. I enjoyed how the author was able to properly emphasize the sheltered existence of the protagonist as well as how easily one could fall into something like that without realizing it sooner. In all, the characters are relatable and easily likable. The pace is steady from start to finish. I also enjoyed the overall theme of women vs. men who end up in the legal system. It was interesting to discover the different ways that the government tries to help those who step back into society as well as the constant struggle to do better. Due to some intimate situations, I recommend this book to mature readers only. Anyone who enjoys fiction that delves into the legal system will enjoy this novel.