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Full-Text Articles in Law

Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2018

Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This first chapter from the recently published book Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States documents the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment — desert, deterrence, incapacitation of the dangerous — that are officially recognized by law in each of the American states. The chapter contains two maps visually coded to display important differences: the first map shows which states have adopted desert, deterrence, or incapacitation as a distributive principle, while the second map shows which form of desert is adopted in those jurisdictions that recognize desert. Like all 38 chapters in the book, which covers a wide ...


Penal Incapacitation: A Situationist Critique, Guyora Binder, Ben Notterman Jan 2017

Penal Incapacitation: A Situationist Critique, Guyora Binder, Ben Notterman

Journal Articles

Incapacitation of offenders has been an influential goal of criminal justice policy during the era of mass incarceration. The Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence has accepted incapacitation alone as a justifying purpose for recidivist sentencing enhancements. Yet recent Eighth Amendment decisions have required that severe sentences of incarceration be justified by reference to all purposes of punishment cumulatively, and have tested claims of incapacitative benefits against empirical evidence. This Article critiques penal incapacitation as both theoretically and empirically flawed. Incapacitation theory underestimates situational factors contributing to crime, over-attributes dangerousness to individuals, and fails to account for crime committed in ...


"Life Without Parole" Under Modern Theories Of Punishment, Paul H. Robinson Jun 2012

"Life Without Parole" Under Modern Theories Of Punishment, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Life without parole seems an attractive and logical punishment under the modern coercive crime-control principles of general deterrence and incapacitation, a point reinforced by its common use under habitual offender statutes like "three strikes." Yet, there is increasing evidence to doubt the efficacy of using such principles to distributive punishment. The prerequisite conditions for effective general deterrence are the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, effective and fair preventive detention is difficult when attempted through the criminal justice system. If we really are committed to preventive detention, it is better for both society and potential detainees that it be done ...


Do Sex Offender Registration And Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?, J. J. Prescott, Jonah E. Rockoff Jan 2011

Do Sex Offender Registration And Notification Laws Affect Criminal Behavior?, J. J. Prescott, Jonah E. Rockoff

Articles

Sex offenders have become the targets of some of the most far-reaching and novel crime legislation in the U.S. Two key innovations in recent decades have been registration and notification laws which, respectively, require that convicted sex offenders provide valid contact information to law enforcement authorities, and that information about sex offenders be made public. Using the evolution of state law during the 1990s and 2000s, we study how registration and notification affect the frequency of reported sex offenses and the incidence of such offenses across victims. We find evidence that registration reduces the frequency of sex offenses by ...


Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2011

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In 1963, President Kennedy outlined a federal program designed to reduce by half the number of persons in custody in mental hospitals. What followed was the biggest deinstitutionalization this country has ever seen. The historical record is complex and the contributing factors are several, but one simple fact remains: This country has deinstitutionalized before. As we think about reducing mass incarceration today, it may be useful to recall some lessons from the past. After tracing the historical background, this essay explores three potential avenues to reduce mass incarceration: First, improving mental health treatment to inmates and exploring the increased use ...


Why Care About Mass Incarceration?, James Forman Jr. Jan 2010

Why Care About Mass Incarceration?, James Forman Jr.

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Paul Butler’s Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hip Theory of Justice makes an important contribution to the debate about the crime policies that have produced this result. Butler began his career as a federal prosecutor who believed that the best way to serve Washington, D.C’s low-income African-American community was to punish its law-breakers. His experiences—including being prosecuted for a crime himself—eventually led him to conclude that America incarcerates far too many nonviolent offenders, especially drug offenders. Let’s Get Free ...


Restoration But Also More Justice, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2009

Restoration But Also More Justice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay replies to Erik Luna's endorsement of restorative justice. He is right that the goal of healing victims, defendants, and their families is important but all too often neglected by substantive criminal law and procedure, which is far too state-centered and impersonal. The problem with restorative justice is that too often it seeks to sweep away punishment as barbaric and downplays the need for deterrence and incapacitation as well. In short, restorative justice deserves more of a role in American criminal justice. Shorn of its political baggage and reflexive hostility to punishment, restorative justice has much to ...


Randomization In Criminal Justice: A Criminal Law Conversation, Bernard E. Harcourt, Alon Harel, Ken Levy, Michael M. O'Hear, Alice Ristroph Jan 2009

Randomization In Criminal Justice: A Criminal Law Conversation, Bernard E. Harcourt, Alon Harel, Ken Levy, Michael M. O'Hear, Alice Ristroph

Faculty Scholarship

In this Criminal Law Conversation (Robinson, Ferzan & Garvey, eds., Oxford 2009), the authors debate whether there is a role for randomization in the penal sphere - in the criminal law, in policing, and in punishment theory. In his Tanner lectures back in 1987, Jon Elster had argued that there was no role for chance in the criminal law: “I do not think there are any arguments for incorporating lotteries in present-day criminal law,” Elster declared. Bernard Harcourt takes a very different position and embraces chance in the penal sphere, arguing that randomization is often the only way to avoid the pitfalls ...


An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2007

An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Previous research overwhelmingly shows that incarceration led to lower rates of violent crime during the 1990s, but finds no evidence of an effect prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt calls “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to that puzzle: the fatal error with prior research is that it used exclusively rates of imprisonment, rather than a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel data regressions over the period 1934-2001, and controlling for demographic, economic, and criminal justice variables, this study finds a large, robust, and statistically significant relationship between aggregated ...


From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2006

From The Asylum To The Prison: Rethinking The Incarceration Revolution, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The incarceration explosion of the late twentieth century set off a storm of longitudinal research on the relationship between rates of imprisonment and crime, unemployment, education, and other social indicators. Those studies, however, are fundamentally flawed because they fail to measure confinement properly. They rely on imprisonment data only, and ignore historical rates of mental hospitalization. With the exception of a discrete literature on the interdependence of the mental hospital and prison populations and some studies on the explanations for the prison expansion, none of the empirical work related to the incarceration explosion – or for that matter, older research on ...


Embracing Chance: Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2006

Embracing Chance: Post-Modern Meditations On Punishment, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Since the modern era, the discourse of punishment has cycled through three sets of questions. The first, born of the Enlightenment itself, asked: On what ground does the sovereign have the right to punish? Nietzsche most forcefully, but others as well, argued that the question itself begged its own answer. The right to punish, they suggested, is what defines sovereignty, and as such, can never serve to limit sovereign power. With the birth of the social sciences, this skepticism gave rise to a second set of questions: What then is the true function of punishment? What is it that we ...