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The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin


It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame ...

Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin


This review of The New Criminal Justice Thinking (Sharon Dolovich & Alexandra Natapoff, eds.) tracks the shifting and uncertain contours of “criminal justice” as an object of study and critique.

Specifically, I trace two themes in the book:

(1) the uncertain boundaries of the “criminal justice system” as a web of laws, actors, and institutions; and

(2) the uncertain boundaries of “criminal justice thinking” as a universe of interdisciplinary scholarship, policy discourse, and public engagement.

I argue that these two themes speak to critically important questions about the nature of criminal justice scholarship and reform efforts. Without a firm understanding of what constitutes the “criminal justice system,” it is difficult to agree on the proper targets of critique or to determine what legal, social, and political problems are properly the province of “criminal justice thinking.” And, deciding which voices to accept and privilege in these ...

Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin


This Article diagnoses a phenomenon, “criminal employment law,” which exists at the nexus of employment law and the criminal justice system. Courts and legislatures discourage employers from hiring workers with criminal records and encourage employers to discipline workers for non-work-related criminal misconduct. In analyzing this phenomenon, my goals are threefold: (1) to examine how criminal employment law works; (2) to hypothesize why criminal employment law has proliferated; and (3) to assess what is wrong with criminal employment law. This Article examines the ways in which the laws that govern the workplace create incentives for employers not to hire individuals with ...

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber Jan 2018

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber


McCleskey v. Kemp, the case that upheld the death penalty despite undeniable evidence of its racially disparate impact, is indelibly marked by Justice William Brennan’s phrase, “a fear of too much justice.” The popular interpretation of this phrase is that the Supreme Court harbored what I call a “disparity-claim fear,” dreading a future docket of racial discrimination claims and erecting an impossibly high bar for proving an equal protection violation. A related interpretation is that the majority had a “color-consciousness fear” of remedying discrimination through race-remedial policies. In contrast to these conventional views, I argue that the primary anxiety ...

Character Flaws, Frederic Bloom Jan 2018

Character Flaws, Frederic Bloom


Character evidence doctrine is infected by error. It is riddled with a set of pervasive mistakes and misconceptions—a group of gaffes and glitches involving Rule 404(b)’s “other purposes” (like intent, absence of accident, and plan) that might be called “character flaws.” This Essay identifies and investigates those flaws through the lens of a single, sensational case: United States v. Henthorn. By itself, Henthorn is a tale worth telling—an astonishing story of danger and deceit, malice and murder. But Henthorn is more than just a stunning story. It is also an example and an opportunity, a chance ...