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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Criminology

Punishment

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Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse Nov 2020

Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay responds to Hirstein, Sifferd and Fagan’s book, Responsible Brains (MIT Press, 2018), which claims that executive function is the guiding mechanism that supports both responsible agency and the necessity for some excuses. In contrast, I suggest that executive function is not the universal acid and the neuroscience at present contributes almost nothing to the necessary psychological level of explanation and analysis. To the extent neuroscience can be useful, it is virtually entirely dependent on well-validated psychology to correlate with the neuroscientific variables under investigation. The essay considers what executive function is and what the neuroscience adds to ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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.


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 ...


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.


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 ...