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State and Local Government Law

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Empirical studies

2020

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Incrementalist Vs. Maximalist Reform: Solitary Confinement Case Studies, Margo Schlanger Aug 2020

Incrementalist Vs. Maximalist Reform: Solitary Confinement Case Studies, Margo Schlanger

Articles

Among criminal justice reformers, it has long been hotly contested whether moderate reform helps or harms more efforts to achieve more thoroughgoing change. With respect to solitary confinement, do partial and ameliorative measures undermine the goal of solitary confinement abolition? Or do reformist campaigns advance—albeit incrementally—that ultimate goal? Call this a debate between “incrementalists” and “maximalists.” I offer this Essay as an appeal for empirical rather than aesthetic inquiry into the question. After summarizing nationwide reform litigation efforts that began in the 1970s, I try to shed some factual light by examining solitary reform efforts in two states, Massachusetts and …