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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne Mar 2021

How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Solving criminal justice problems typically requires the enactment of new rules or the modification of existing ones. But there are some serious problems that can best be solved simply by altering the way in which the existing rules are drafted rather than by altering their content. This is the case with two of the most serious problems in criminal justice today: the problem of overlapping criminal offenses that create excessive prosecutorial charging discretion and the problem of legislative inconsistency and irrationality in grading offenses.

After examining these two problems and demonstrating their serious effects in perverting criminal justice, the essay ...


The Saga Of Pennsylvania’S “Willie Horton” And The Commutation Of Life Sentences In The Commonwealth, Regina Austin Feb 2020

The Saga Of Pennsylvania’S “Willie Horton” And The Commutation Of Life Sentences In The Commonwealth, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In 1994, Reginald McFadden’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole was commuted by the governor of Pennsylvania, and he was shipped to New York to be supervised by a bunch of amateurs. Within roughly 90 days, he murdered two people, raped and kidnapped a third, and possibly murdered a fourth. McFadden proved to be Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel’s “Willie Horton.” Singel, who had voted for McFadden’s release as a member of the Board of Pardons, lost the gubernatorial election to his Republican opponent who ran on a “life-means-life” platform. Compounding the tragedy of McFadden’s ...


Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts Jan 2020

Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article presents a mixed-methods study of misdemeanor bail practice across Georgia in the wake of reform. We observed bail hearings and interviewed system actors in a representative sample of fifty-five counties to assess the extent to which pretrial practice conforms to legal standards clarified in Senate Bill 407 and Walker v. Calhoun. We also analyzed jail population data published by county jails and by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. We found that a handful of counties have made promising headway in adhering to law and best practices, but that the majority have some distance to go. Most counties ...


Detention By Any Other Name, Sandra G. Mayson Jan 2020

Detention By Any Other Name, Sandra G. Mayson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

An unaffordable bail requirement has precisely the same effect as an order of pretrial detention: the accused person is jailed pending trial. It follows as a logical matter that an order requiring an unaffordable bail bond as a condition of release should be subject to the same substantive and procedural protections as an order denying bail altogether. Yet this has not been the practice.

This Article lays out the logical and legal case for the proposition that an order that functionally imposes detention must be treated as an order of detention. It addresses counterarguments and complexities, including both empirical and ...


The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton Jan 2019

The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


“Second Looks, Second Chances”: Collaborating With Lifers Inc. On A Video About Commutation Of Lwop Sentences, Regina Austin Jan 2019

“Second Looks, Second Chances”: Collaborating With Lifers Inc. On A Video About Commutation Of Lwop Sentences, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In Pennsylvania, life means life without the possibility of parole (“LWOP”) or “death by incarceration.” Although executive commutation offers long serving rehabilitated lifers hope of release, in the past 20 years, only 8 commutations have been granted by the state’s governors. This article describes the collaboration between an organization of incarcerated persons serving LWOP and the law-school-based Penn Program on Documentaries and the Law that produced a video supporting increased commutations for Pennsylvania lifers. The article details the methodology of collaborative videomaking employed, the strategic decisions over content that were impacted by the politics of commutation, and the contributions ...


Applying Sentinel Event Reviews To Policing, John Hollway, Ben Grunwald Jan 2019

Applying Sentinel Event Reviews To Policing, John Hollway, Ben Grunwald

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A sentinel event review (SER) is a system-based, multistakeholder review of an organizational error. The goal of an SER is to prevent similar errors from recurring in the future rather than identifying and punishing the responsible parties. In this article, we provide a detailed description of one of the first SERs conducted in an American police department—the review of the Lex Street Massacre investigation and prosecution, which resulted in the wrongful incarceration of four innocent men for 18 months. The results of the review suggest that SERs may help identify new systemic reforms for participating police departments and other ...


Democratizing Criminal Law As An Abolitionist Project, Dorothy E. Roberts Jan 2017

Democratizing Criminal Law As An Abolitionist Project, Dorothy E. Roberts

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The criminal justice system currently functions to exclude black people from full political participation. Myriad institutions, laws, and definitions within the criminal justice system subordinate and criminalize black people, thereby excluding them from electoral politics, and depriving them of material resources, social networks, family relationships, and legitimacy necessary for full political citizenship. Making criminal law democratic requires more than reform efforts to improve currently existing procedures and systems. Rather, it requires an abolitionist approach that will dismantle the criminal law’s anti-democratic aspects entirely and reconstitute the criminal justice system without them.


The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas Jan 2011

The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay responds to Josh Bowers’ article Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, and the Equitable Decision Not to Prosecute. While most scholars focus on the most visible injustices in the most serious cases, Bowers rightly notes that this sliver of serious felonies is dwarfed by the mountain of minor, low-visibility misdemeanors and violations. Prosecutors are reasonably good at classifying crimes based on legal guilt and administrative criteria, but are far worse at weighing all the particulars and exercising equitable discretion. Our consistent faith in prosecutors’ expertise, Bowers argues, is not only misguided but backwards; we should value outsiders’ fresh perspectives ...


Concordance & Conflict In Intuitions Of Justice, Paul H. Robinson, Robert O. Kurzban Jun 2007

Concordance & Conflict In Intuitions Of Justice, Paul H. Robinson, Robert O. Kurzban

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The common wisdom among criminal law theorists and policy makers is that the notion of desert is vague and the subject to wide disagreement. Yet the empirical evidence in available studies, including new studies reported here, paints a dramatically different picture. While moral philosophers may disagree on some aspects of moral blameworthiness, people's intuitions of justice are commonly specific, nuanced, and widely shared. Indeed, with regard to the core harms and evils to which criminal law addresses itself – physical aggression, takings without consent, and deception in transactions – people's shared intuitions cut across demographics and cultures. The findings raise ...