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Reid G. Fontaine

Affirmative Defense

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On The Boundaries Of Culture As An Affirmative Defense, Reid Griffith Fontaine, Eliot M. Held Jan 2009

On The Boundaries Of Culture As An Affirmative Defense, Reid Griffith Fontaine, Eliot M. Held

Reid G. Fontaine

A “cultural defense” to criminal culpability cannot achieve true pluralism without collapsing into a totally subjective, personal standard. Applying an objective cultural standard does not rescue a defendant from the external imposition of values—the purported aim of the cultural defense—because a cultural standard is, at its core, an external standard imposed onto an individual. The pluralist argument for a cultural defense also fails on its own terms—after all, justice systems are themselves cultural institutions. Furthermore, a defendant’s background is already accounted for at sentencing. The closest thing to a cultural defense that a court could adopt ...