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Legal History Commons

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2017

Criminal Law

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Drunk driving

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic In America, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2017

Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic In America, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Can a crime make our world better? Crimes are the worst of humanity’s wrongs but, oddly, they sometimes do more than anything else to improve our lives. It is often the outrageousness itself that does the work. Ordinary crimes are accepted as the background noise of everyday existence but some crimes make people stop and take notice – because they are so outrageous or so heart-wrenching.

This brief essay explores the dynamic of tragedy, outrage, and reform, illustrating how certain kinds of crimes can trigger real social progress. Several dozen such “trigger crimes” are identified but four in particular are ...