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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Being Right Can Risk Wrongs, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2016

How Being Right Can Risk Wrongs, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a chapter from the new book The Vigilante Echo. Previous chapters have made clear that some vigilantism can be morally justified where the government has failed in its promise under the social contract to protect and to do justice. But this chapter explains how even moral vigilante action can be problematic for the larger society. Vigilantes may try to do the right thing but are likely to lack the training and professional neutrality of police. They may be successful, but only on pushing the crime problem to an adjacent neighborhood. Because their open lawbreaking may seem admirable to ...


Shadow Vigilante Officials Manipulate And Distort To Force Justice From An Apparently Reluctant System, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2016

Shadow Vigilante Officials Manipulate And Distort To Force Justice From An Apparently Reluctant System, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The real danger of the vigilante impulse is not of hordes of citizens, frustrated by the system’s doctrines of disillusionment, rising up to take the law into their own hands. Frustration can spark a vigilante impulse but such classic aggressive vigilantism is not the typical response. More common is the expression of disillusionment in less brazen ways, by a more surreptitious undermining and distortion of the operation of the criminal justice system.

Shadow vigilantes, as they might be called, can affect the operation of the system in a host of important ways. For example, when people act as classic ...


Tightening The Ooda Loop: Police Militarization, Race, And Algorithmic Surveillance, Jeffrey L. Vagle Feb 2016

Tightening The Ooda Loop: Police Militarization, Race, And Algorithmic Surveillance, Jeffrey L. Vagle

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article examines the role military automated surveillance and intelligence systems and techniques have supported a self-reinforcing racial bias when used by civilian police departments to enhance predictive policing programs. I will focus on two facets of this problem. First, my research will take an inside-out perspective, studying the role played by advanced military technologies and methods within civilian police departments, and how they have enabled a new focus on deterrence and crime prevention by creating a system of structural surveillance where decision support relies increasingly upon algorithms and automated data analysis tools, and which automates de facto penalization and ...


Tasers Help Police Avoid Fatal Mistakes, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2016

Tasers Help Police Avoid Fatal Mistakes, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This op-ed piece argues that police will inevitably be placed in impossible situations in which they reasonably believe they must shoot to defend themselves but where the shooting in fact turns out to be unnecessary. What can save the police, and the community, from these regular tragedies is a more concerted shift to police use of nonlethal weapons. Taser technology, for example, continues to become increasingly more effective and reliable. While we will always have reasonable mistakes by police in the use of force, it need not be the case that each ends in death or permanent injury. Such a ...


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 ...


Criminal Justice And (A) Catholic Conscience, Leo E. Strine Jr. Jan 2016

Criminal Justice And (A) Catholic Conscience, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article is one person's reflections on how an important influence on his own sense of moral values -- Jesus Christ -- affects his thinking about his own approach to his role as a public official in a secular society, using the vital topic of criminal justice as a focal point. This article draws several important lessons from Christ's teachings about the concept of the other that are relevant to issues of criminal justice. Using Catholicism as a framework, this article addresses, among other things, capital punishment and denying the opportunity for redemption; the problem of racial disparities in the ...


Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick Jan 2016

Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

There is a 250 year old presumption in the criminology and law enforcement literature that people are deterred more by increases in the certainty rather than increases in the severity of legal sanctions. We call this presumption the Certainty Aversion Presumption (CAP). Simple criminal decision making models suggest that criminals must be risk-seeking if they behave consistently with CAP. This implication leads to disturbing interpretations, such as criminals being categorically different than law abiding people, who often display risk-averse behavior while making financial decisions. Moreover, policy discussions that incorrectly rely on criminals’ risk attitudes implied by CAP are ill-informed, and ...