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Criminal Procedure

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Columbia Law School

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On The American Paradox Of Laissez Faire And Mass Incarceration, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2012

On The American Paradox Of Laissez Faire And Mass Incarceration, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In The Illusion of Free Markets (Harvard 2011), Professor Bernard Harcourt analyzes the evolution of a distinctly American paradox: in the country that has done the most to promote the idea of a hands-off government, we run the single largest prison complex in the entire world. Harcourt traces this paradox back to the eighteenth century and demonstrates how the presumption of government incompetence in economic affairs has been coupled with that of government legitimacy in the realm of policing and punishing. Harcourt shows how these linked presumptions have fueled the expansion of the carceral sphere in the nineteenth and twentieth ...