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After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne Aug 2019

After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

While an offender’s conduct before and during the crime is the traditional focus of criminal law and sentencing rules, an examination of post-offense conduct can also be important in promoting criminal justice goals. After the crime, different offenders make different choices and have different experiences, and those differences can suggest appropriately different treatment by judges, correctional officials, probation and parole supervisors, and other decision-makers in the criminal justice system.

Positive post-offense conduct ought to be acknowledged and rewarded, not only to encourage it but also as a matter of fair and just treatment. This essay describes four kinds of ...


How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner Feb 2017

How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, B J. Casey, Richard J. Bonnie, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth S. Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Anthony D. Wagner

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?

A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults ...


Strict Liability's Criminogenic Effect, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2017

Strict Liability's Criminogenic Effect, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is easy to understand the apparent appeal of strict liability to policymakers and legal reformers seeking to reduce crime: if the criminal law can do away with its traditional culpability requirement, it can increase the likelihood of conviction and punishment of those who engage in prohibited conduct or bring about prohibited harm or evil. And such an increase in punishment rate can enhance the crime-control effectiveness of a system built upon general deterrence or incapacitation of the dangerous. Similar arguments support the use of criminal liability for regulatory offenses. Greater punishment rates suggest greater compliance.

But this analysis fails ...


Addiction, Choice And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2017

Addiction, Choice And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter is a contribution to a volume, Addiction and Choice, edited by Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal that is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Some claim that addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease; others claim that it is a product of choice; yet others think that addictions have both disease and choice aspects. Which of these views holds sway in a particular domain enormously influences how that domain treats addictions. With limited exceptions, Anglo-American criminal law has implicitly adopted the choice model and a corresponding approach to responsibility. Addiction is irrelevant to the criteria for the prima ...


Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2017

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Of the many diagnoses of American criminal justice’s ills, few focus on externalities. Yet American criminal justice systematically overpunishes in large part because few mechanisms exist to force consideration of the full social costs of criminal justice interventions. Actors often lack good information or incentives to minimize the harms they impose. Part of the problem is structural: criminal justice is fragmented vertically among governments, horizontally among agencies, and individually among self-interested actors. Part is a matter of focus: doctrinally and pragmatically, actors overwhelmingly view each case as an isolated, short-term transaction to the exclusion of broader, long-term, and aggregate ...


Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse Jun 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This invited commentary for Journal of Law & the Biosciences considers four empirical studies previously published in the journal of the reception of neuroscientific evidence in criminal cases in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, and the Netherlands. There are conceded methodological problems with all, but the data are nonetheless instructive and suggestive. The thesis of the comment is that the courts are committing the same errors that have bedeviled the reception of psychiatric and psychological evidence. There is insufficient caution about the state of the science, and more importantly, there is insufficient understanding of the relevance of the neuroscientific ...


The Legal Limits Of “Yes Means Yes”, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2016

The Legal Limits Of “Yes Means Yes”, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This op-ed piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education argues that the affirmative consent rule of "yes means yes" is a useful standard that can help educate and ideally change norms regarding consent to sexual intercourse. But that goal can best be achieved by using “yes means yes” as an ex ante announcement of the society's desired rule of conduct. That standard only becomes problematic when used as the ex post principle of adjudication for allegations of rape. Indeed, those most interested in changing existing norms ought to be the persons most in support of distinguishing these two importantly ...


Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague Jan 2016

Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria.

We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those ...


What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2016

What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Equality in criminal sentencing often translates into equalizing outcomes and stamping out variations, whether race-based, geographic, or random. This approach conflates the concept of equality with one contestable conception focused on outputs and numbers, not inputs and processes. Racial equality is crucial, but a concern with eliminating racism has hypertrophied well beyond race. Equalizing outcomes seems appealing as a neutral way to dodge contentious substantive policy debates about the purposes of punishment. But it actually privileges deterrence and incapacitation over rehabilitation, subjective elements of retribution, and procedural justice, and it provides little normative guidance for punishment. It also has unintended ...


The Rise And Fall And Resurrection Of American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2015

The Rise And Fall And Resurrection Of American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay summarizes the virtues of the modern American codification movement of the 1960s and 70s, putting it in a larger global context, then describes how these once-enviable codes have been systematically degraded with thoughtless amendments, a process of degradation that is accelerating each year. After exploring the political dynamics that promote such degradation, the essay suggests the principles and procedures for fixing the current codes and, more importantly, structural changes to the process that could avoid the restart of degradation in the future.


Discounting And Criminals' Implied Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick Jan 2015

Discounting And Criminals' Implied Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is commonly assumed that potential offenders are more responsive to increases in the certainty than increases in the severity of punishment. An important implication of this assumption within the Beckerian law enforcement model is that criminals are risk-seeking. This note adds to existing literature by showing that offenders who discount future monetary benefits can be more responsive to the certainty rather than the severity of punishment, even when they are risk averse, and even when their disutility from imprisonment rises proportionally (or more than proportionally) with the length of the sentence.


Punishment: Drop City And The Utopian Communes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2015

Punishment: Drop City And The Utopian Communes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Using stories from the utopian non-punishment hippie communes of the late 1960's, the essay challenges today’s anti-punishment movement by demonstrating that the benefits of cooperative action are available only with the adoption of a system for punishing violations of core rules. Rather than being an evil system anathema to right-thinking people, punishment is the lynchpin of the cooperative action that has created human success.

This is Chapter 3 from the general audience book Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law. Chapter 4 of the book is also available on SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com ...


"Not Just A Common Criminal": The Case For Sentencing Mitigation Videos, Regina Austin Apr 2014

"Not Just A Common Criminal": The Case For Sentencing Mitigation Videos, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Sentencing mitigation or sentencing videos are a form of visual legal advocacy that is produced on behalf of defendants for use in the sentencing phases of criminal cases (from charging to clemency). The videos are typically short (5 to 10 minutes or so) nonfiction films that explore a defendant’s background, character, and family situation with the aim of raising factual and moral issues that support the argument for a shorter or more lenient sentence. Very few examples of mitigation videos are in the public domain and available for viewing. This article provides a complete analysis of the constituent elements ...


Law And Neuroscience: Recommendations Submitted To The President's Bioethics Commission, Owen D. Jones, Richard J. Bonnie, B. J. Casey, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris Hoffman, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner, Gideon Yaffe Jan 2014

Law And Neuroscience: Recommendations Submitted To The President's Bioethics Commission, Owen D. Jones, Richard J. Bonnie, B. J. Casey, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris Hoffman, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner, Gideon Yaffe

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

President Obama charged the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to identify a set of core ethical standards in the neuroscience domain, including the appropriate use of neuroscience in the criminal-justice system. The Commission, in turn, called for comments and recommendations. The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience submitted a consensus statement, published here, containing 16 specific recommendations. These are organized within three main themes: 1) what steps should be taken to enhance the capacity of the criminal justice system to make sound decisions regarding the admissibility and weight of neuroscientific evidence?; 2) to what extent ...


Empirical Desert, Individual Prevention, And Limiting Retributivism: A Reply, Paul H. Robinson, Joshua Samuel Barton, Matthew J. Lister Jan 2014

Empirical Desert, Individual Prevention, And Limiting Retributivism: A Reply, Paul H. Robinson, Joshua Samuel Barton, Matthew J. Lister

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A number of articles and empirical studies over the past decade, most by Paul Robinson and co-authors, have suggested a relationship between the extent of the criminal law's reputation for being just in its distribution of criminal liability and punishment in the eyes of the community – its "moral credibility" – and its ability to gain that community's deference and compliance through a variety of mechanisms that enhance its crime-control effectiveness. This has led to proposals to have criminal liability and punishment rules reflect lay intuitions of justice – "empirical desert" – as a means of enhancing the system's moral credibility ...


Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Dec 2013

Constitutionally Tailoring Punishment, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Since the turn of the century, the Supreme Court has begun to regulate non-capital sentencing under the Sixth Amendment in the Apprendi line of cases (requiring jury findings of fact to justify sentence enhancements) as well as under the Eighth Amendment in the Miller and Graham line of cases (forbidding mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile defendants). Though both lines of authority sound in individual rights, in fact they are fundamentally about the structures of criminal justice. These two seemingly disparate lines of doctrine respond to structural imbalances in non-capital sentencing by promoting morally appropriate punishment judgments that are based on ...


Abolition Of The Insanity Defense Violates Due Process, Stephen J. Morse, Richard J. Bonnie Jan 2013

Abolition Of The Insanity Defense Violates Due Process, Stephen J. Morse, Richard J. Bonnie

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article, which is based on and expands on an amicus brief the authors submitted to the United States Supreme Court, first provides the moral argument in favor of the insanity defense. It considers and rejects the most important moral counterargument and suggests that jurisdictions have considerable leeway in deciding what test best meets their legal and moral policies. The article then discusses why the two primary alternatives to the insanity defense, the negation of mens rea and considering mental disorder at sentencing, are insufficient to achieve the goal of responding justly to severely mentally disordered offenders. The last section ...


A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2013

A Good Enough Reason: Addiction, Agency And Criminal Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The article begins by contrasting medical and moral views of addiction and how such views influence responsibility and policy analysis. It suggests that since addiction always involves action and action can always be morally evaluated, we must independently decide whether addicts do not meet responsibility criteria rather than begging the question and deciding by the label of ‘disease’ or ‘moral weakness’. It then turns to the criteria for criminal responsibility and shows that the criteria for criminal responsibility, like the criteria for addiction, are all folk psychological. Therefore, any scientific information about addiction must be ‘translated’ into the law’s ...


Comments On [Israeli] Proposal For Structuring Judicial Discretion In Sentencing, Paul H. Robinson Mar 2011

Comments On [Israeli] Proposal For Structuring Judicial Discretion In Sentencing, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this essay, Professor Robinson supports the current Israeli proposal for structuring judicial discretion in sentencing, in particular its reliance upon desert as the guiding principle for the distribution of punishment, its reliance upon benchmarks, or “starting-points,” to be adjusted in individual cases by reference to articulated mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and the proposal’s suggestion to use of an expert committee to draft the original guidelines.


The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas Jan 2011

The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay responds to Josh Bowers’ article Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, and the Equitable Decision Not to Prosecute. While most scholars focus on the most visible injustices in the most serious cases, Bowers rightly notes that this sliver of serious felonies is dwarfed by the mountain of minor, low-visibility misdemeanors and violations. Prosecutors are reasonably good at classifying crimes based on legal guilt and administrative criteria, but are far worse at weighing all the particulars and exercising equitable discretion. Our consistent faith in prosecutors’ expertise, Bowers argues, is not only misguided but backwards; we should value outsiders’ fresh perspectives ...


Estimating The Deterrent Effect Of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements, David S. Abrams Jan 2011

Estimating The Deterrent Effect Of Incarceration Using Sentencing Enhancements, David S. Abrams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Increasing criminal sanctions may reduce crime through two primary mechanisms: deterrence and incapacitation. Disentangling their effects is crucial, since each mechanism has different implications for optimal policy setting. I use the introduction of state add-on gun laws, which enhance sentences for defendants possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, to isolate the deterrent effect of incarceration. Defendants subject to add-ons would be incarcerated in the absence of the law change, so any short-term impact on crime can be attributed solely to deterrence. Using cross-state variation in the timing of law passage dates, I find that the average add-on ...


Do Judges Vary In Their Treatment Of Race?, David S. Abrams, Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan Sep 2010

Do Judges Vary In Their Treatment Of Race?, David S. Abrams, Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Are minorities treated differently by the legal system? Systematic racial differences in case characteristics, many unobservable, make this a difficult question to answer directly. In this paper, we estimate whether judges differ from each other in how they sentence minorities, avoiding potential bias from unobservable case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of cases to judges. We measure the between-judge variation in the difference in incarceration rates and sentence lengths between African-American and White defendants. We perform a Monte Carlo simulation in order to explicitly construct the appropriate counterfactual, where race does not influence judicial sentencing. In our data set ...


Restoration But Also More Justice, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2009

Restoration But Also More Justice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay replies to Erik Luna's endorsement of restorative justice. He is right that the goal of healing victims, defendants, and their families is important but all too often neglected by substantive criminal law and procedure, which is far too state-centered and impersonal. The problem with restorative justice is that too often it seeks to sweep away punishment as barbaric and downplays the need for deterrence and incapacitation as well. In short, restorative justice deserves more of a role in American criminal justice. Shorn of its political baggage and reflexive hostility to punishment, restorative justice has much to ...


Competing Conceptions Of Modern Desert: Vengeful, Deontological, And Empirical, Paul H. Robinson Mar 2008

Competing Conceptions Of Modern Desert: Vengeful, Deontological, And Empirical, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The dispute over the role desert should play, if any, in assessing criminal liability and punishment has a long and turbulent history. There is some indication that deserved punishment -- referred to variously as desert, just punishment, retributive punishment, or simply doing justice -- may be in ascendance, both in academic debate and in real world institutions. A number of modern sentencing guidelines have adopted it as their distributive principle. Desert is increasingly given deference in the purposes section of state criminal codes, where it can be the guiding principle in the interpretation and application of the code's provisions. Indeed, a ...


How Psychology Is Changing The Punishment Theory Debate, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2007

How Psychology Is Changing The Punishment Theory Debate, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay reviews the contributions that social psychology is making the debate among criminal law theorists on the proper principle for the distribution of criminal liability and punishment. Included are a discussion of suggestions that deterrence may be ineffective as a distributive principle, that incapacitation of dangerous persons may be effective but might be more effective if pursued through a detention system distinct from the criminal justice system, and that desert as a distributive principle, ironically, might be the most effective for controlling crime. Available for download at http://ssrn.com/abstract=956130


The Uneasy Entente Between Insanity And Mens Rea: Beyond Clark V. Arizona, Stephen J. Morse, Morris B. Hoffman Jan 2007

The Uneasy Entente Between Insanity And Mens Rea: Beyond Clark V. Arizona, Stephen J. Morse, Morris B. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

There is uneasy tension in the criminal law between the doctrines of mens rea and the defense of legal insanity. Last term, the Supreme Court addressed both these issues, but failed to clarify the relation between them. Using a wide range of interdisciplinary materials, this article discusses the broad doctrinal, theoretical, and normative issues concerning responsibility that arise in this context. We clarify the meaning of mental disorder, mens rea and legal insanity, the justification for and the relation between the latter two, and the relation among all three. Next we consider the reasoning in Clark, and for the most ...


Transparency And Participation In Criminal Procedure, Stephanos Bibas Jun 2006

Transparency And Participation In Criminal Procedure, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The insiders who run the criminal justice system–judges, police, and especially prosecutors–have information, power, and self-interests that greatly influence the criminal justice process and outcomes. Outsiders–crime victims, bystanders, and most of the general public–find the system frustratingly opaque, insular, and unconcerned with proper retribution. As a result, a spiral ensues: insiders twist rules as they see fit, outsiders try to constrain them, and insiders find new ways to evade or manipulate the new rules. The gulf between insiders and outsiders undercuts the instrumental, moral, and expressive efficacy of criminal procedure in serving the criminal law’s ...