Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Series

Criminal Law

Prisons

Institution
Publication Year
Publication

Articles 1 - 30 of 53

Full-Text Articles in Law

Powerless Beings: Solitary Confinement Of Humans And Nonhumans In America, Michael B. Mushlin, David N. Cassuto Jan 2024

Powerless Beings: Solitary Confinement Of Humans And Nonhumans In America, Michael B. Mushlin, David N. Cassuto

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Every day, thousands of humans and millions of nonhumans endure solitary confinement. Human prisoners held this way are confined for twenty-two to twenty-four hours a day for weeks, months, or even years on end in cells the size of a parking space. For these humans, the experience is tortuous. Captive animals held in solitary confinement similarly spend much of their lives locked into tiny spaces, isolated, and deprived of the types of interactions and environment essential to their wellbeing. And, like humans, they are driven mad. In human and nonhuman settings, the agony of solitary is chillingly alike and harmful. …


Toward A Better Criminal Legal System: Improving Prisons, Prosecution, And Criminal Defense, David A. Harris, Created And Presented Jointly By Students From State Correctional Institution - Greene, Waynesburg, Pa, And University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law, Chief Editor: David A. Harris Jan 2024

Toward A Better Criminal Legal System: Improving Prisons, Prosecution, And Criminal Defense, David A. Harris, Created And Presented Jointly By Students From State Correctional Institution - Greene, Waynesburg, Pa, And University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law, Chief Editor: David A. Harris

Articles

During the Fall 2023 semester, 15 law (Outside) students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and 13 incarcerated (Inside) students from the State Correctional Institution – Greene, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, took a full semester class together called Issues in Criminal Justice and Law. The class, occurring each week at the prison, utilized the Inside-Out Prison Exchange pedagogy, and was facilitated by Professor David Harris. Subjects include the purposes of prison, addressing crime, the criminal legal system and race, and issues surrounding victims and survivors of crime. The course culminated in a Group Project; under the heading “improving the …


Defeating De Facto Disenfranchisement Of Criminal Defendants, Neil Sobol Mar 2023

Defeating De Facto Disenfranchisement Of Criminal Defendants, Neil Sobol

Faculty Scholarship

In a democracy, voting is not only an important civic duty but also a right that governments owe to their citizens. However, by operation of law, forty-eight states deny voting rights to individuals based on criminal convictions. Activists and scholars attack de jure disenfranchisement as an improper collateral consequence that disproportionately impacts people of color. Although recent years show substantial reforms to reenfranchise defendants, an estimated 5.17 million defendants remained ineligible to vote in 2020.

While efforts to address de jure disenfranchisement remain necessary, a problem that has received considerably less attention is the de facto disenfranchisement of criminal defendants …


Lessons Learned In Prison, Daniel Keating Jan 2023

Lessons Learned In Prison, Daniel Keating

Scholarship@WashULaw

One way that I have tried to stay fresh as a teacher through the decades is to periodically force myself outside of my teaching comfort zone by trying something completely different. Sometimes these initiatives will end up being a one-time experiment. That was the case a little over ten years ago when I decided to teach a new course (Contracts) in a new format (online, but well before Zoom had become commonplace). Other times, my teaching experiment will prove to be more than just a frolic and detour, as was true eight years ago when I began offering a free …


Muslims In Prison: Advancing The Rule Of Law Through Litigation Praxis, Spearit Jan 2022

Muslims In Prison: Advancing The Rule Of Law Through Litigation Praxis, Spearit

Articles

Islamic ideas about justice and equality directly informed the development of prison law jurisprudence in the United States. Since the early 1960s, when federal courts began to hear claims by state prisoner-petitioners, Muslims began to look to courts to establish Islam in prison and inaugurated an ongoing campaign for civil rights. The trend is significant when considering Muslims represent a relatively small percentage of the American population. Decades of persistent litigation by Muslims in courts have been integral to developing the prisoners’ rights movement in America. The Muslim impact on prison law and culture is an underappreciated phenomenon that involves …


9/11 Impacts On Muslims In Prison, Spearit Jan 2021

9/11 Impacts On Muslims In Prison, Spearit

Articles

This essay is part of a volume that reflects on the 20-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The work examines the impacts this event had on the management of Muslims in prison. Soon after the attacks, the culture war against Muslims in the United States began to seep into prisons, where Muslims faced heightened levels of Islamophobia, which cut across several areas of existence: the ability to access religious literature, religious leaders, and paraphernalia, in addition to the federal creation of Communication Management Units. There was also heightened hysteria about the idea of Muslim radicalization in prison, …


Understanding Violent-Crime Recidivism, J.J. Prescott, Benjamin Pyle, Sonja B. Starr May 2020

Understanding Violent-Crime Recidivism, J.J. Prescott, Benjamin Pyle, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

People convicted of violent crimes constitute a majority of the imprisoned population but are generally ignored by existing policies aimed at reducing mass incarceration. Serious efforts to shrink the large footprint of the prison system will need to recognize this fact. This point is especially pressing at the time of this writing, as states and the federal system consider large-scale prison releases motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those convicted of violent crimes constitute a large majority of older prisoners, who are extremely vulnerable to the spread of the virus behind bars. Excluding them from protective measures will deeply undermine those …


Solitary Confinement Continues In Canada Under A Different Name, Adelina Iftene Jan 2020

Solitary Confinement Continues In Canada Under A Different Name, Adelina Iftene

Articles, Book Chapters, & Popular Press

Abusive uses of Structured Intervention Units and the Correctional Service’s conduct mean Parliament must get rid of SIUs or adopt Senate amendments.


Do Abolitionism And Constitutionalism Mix?, Aya Gruber Jan 2020

Do Abolitionism And Constitutionalism Mix?, Aya Gruber

Publications

No abstract provided.


Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin

Scholarship@WashULaw

In this Essay, I offer a brief account of how the COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the realities and structural flaws of the carceral state. I provide two primary examples or illustrations, but they are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list. Rather, by highlighting these issues, problems, or (perhaps) features, I mean to suggest that this moment of crisis should serve not just as an opportunity to marshal resources to address the pandemic, but also as a chance to address the harsh realities of the U.S. criminal system. Further, my claim isn’t that criminal law is in some way …


Disrupting The Androcentric Prison System, Amber Hanke Apr 2019

Disrupting The Androcentric Prison System, Amber Hanke

Audre Lorde Writing Prize

No abstract provided.


Decarceration’S Blindspots, John F. Pfaff Jan 2019

Decarceration’S Blindspots, John F. Pfaff

Faculty Scholarship

For over a decade, my research has focused on trying to answer one simple question: how did the United States, home to about 5% of the world’s population, come to house nearly 25% of its prisoners?1 We were not always the world’s largest jailer; as recently as the 1970s, our incarceration rate was largely indistinguishable from those in other liberal democracies. Yet starting in the mid-1970s, as Figure 1 shows, that rate started to slowly—but steadily and relentlessly—grow, until by the late 2000s it rivaled and then surpassed even the rates seen in autocratic countries like Cuba and Belarus and …


Reforming Restrictive Housing: The 2018 Asca-Liman Nationwide Survey Of Time-In-Cell, Judith Resnik, Anna Vancleave, Kristen Bell, Alexandra Harrington, Gregory Conyers, Catherine Mccarthy, Jenny Tumas, Annie Wang Oct 2018

Reforming Restrictive Housing: The 2018 Asca-Liman Nationwide Survey Of Time-In-Cell, Judith Resnik, Anna Vancleave, Kristen Bell, Alexandra Harrington, Gregory Conyers, Catherine Mccarthy, Jenny Tumas, Annie Wang

Other Scholarship

Reforming Restrictive Housing: The 2018 ASCA-Liman Nationwide Survey of Time-in-Cell is the fourth in a series of research projects co-authored by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the Arthur Liman Center at Yale Law School. These monographs provide a unique, longitudinal, nationwide database. The topic is “restrictive housing,” often termed “solitary confinement,” and defined as separating prisoners from the general population and holding them in cells for an average of 22 hours or more per day for 15 continuous days or more.

The 2018 monograph is based on survey responses from 43 prison systems that held 80.6% of …


Rethinking The Boundaries Of “Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Rethinking The Boundaries Of “Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin

Scholarship@WashULaw

This review of The New Criminal Justice Thinking (Sharon Dolovich & Alexandra Natapoff, eds.) tracks the shifting and uncertain contours of “criminal justice” as an object of study and critique. Specifically, I trace two themes in the book: (1) the uncertain boundaries of the “criminal justice system” as a web of laws, actors, and institutions; and (2) the uncertain boundaries of “criminal justice thinking” as a universe of interdisciplinary scholarship, policy discourse, and public engagement. I argue that these two themes speak to critically important questions about the nature of criminal justice scholarship and reform efforts. Without a firm understanding …


Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin

Publications

This review of The New Criminal Justice Thinking (Sharon Dolovich & Alexandra Natapoff, eds.) tracks the shifting and uncertain contours of “criminal justice” as an object of study and critique.

Specifically, I trace two themes in the book:

(1) the uncertain boundaries of the “criminal justice system” as a web of laws, actors, and institutions; and

(2) the uncertain boundaries of “criminal justice thinking” as a universe of interdisciplinary scholarship, policy discourse, and public engagement.

I argue that these two themes speak to critically important questions about the nature of criminal justice scholarship and reform efforts. Without a firm understanding …


The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Publications

It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame); and …


The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Scholarship@WashULaw

It has become popular to identify a “bipartisan consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This article argues that the purported consensus is largely illusory. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society. The article offers a typology of the two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of the system: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame); and …


Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2017

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

All Faculty Scholarship

Of the many diagnoses of American criminal justice’s ills, few focus on externalities. Yet American criminal justice systematically overpunishes in large part because few mechanisms exist to force consideration of the full social costs of criminal justice interventions. Actors often lack good information or incentives to minimize the harms they impose. Part of the problem is structural: criminal justice is fragmented vertically among governments, horizontally among agencies, and individually among self-interested actors. Part is a matter of focus: doctrinally and pragmatically, actors overwhelmingly view each case as an isolated, short-term transaction to the exclusion of broader, long-term, and aggregate effects. …


The Downstream Consequences Of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan Stevenson Jan 2017

The Downstream Consequences Of Misdemeanor Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan Stevenson

Scholarly Works

In misdemeanor cases, pretrial detention poses a particular problem because it may induce innocent defendants to plead guilty in order to exit jail, potentially creating widespread error in case adjudication. While practitioners have long recognized this possibility, empirical evidence on the downstream impacts of pretrial detention on misdemeanor defendants and their cases remains limited. This Article uses detailed data on hundreds of thousands of misdemeanor cases resolved in Harris County, Texas—the thirdlargest county in the United States—to measure the effects of pretrial detention on case outcomes and future crime. We find that detained defendants are 25% more likely than similarly …


Environmental Crimes And Imprisonment: Does Prison Work To Prevent And Punish Environmental Criminals?, Rafael Wolff Feb 2016

Environmental Crimes And Imprisonment: Does Prison Work To Prevent And Punish Environmental Criminals?, Rafael Wolff

Dissertations & Theses

Environmental degradation is a global problem. Humans need natural resources to survive and, as those resources are limited, humans’ use of these resources should respect a sustainable pace established by law. There are many approaches to addressing environmental degradation that do not honor the legal limitations and one of them is through criminal law. The question that is posed in this thesis is whether imprisonment, one of the most severe methods of punishment, is a suitable option to repress and prevent environmental crimes.

This thesis is divided in three chapters. The first chapter discusses why environmental crimes are relevant. It …


What's Going On In Our Prisons?, Michael B. Mushlin Jan 2016

What's Going On In Our Prisons?, Michael B. Mushlin

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Additional governmental oversight is urgently needed to truly change the culture of a system that holds 53,000 inmates across 54 prisons in New York State. What goes on inside these prisons is largely hidden from view, and there is little accountability for wrongdoing. The State Legislature should follow the A.B.A.’s guidance and establish a monitoring body with unfettered access to prison facilities, staff, inmates and records in announced or unannounced visits.


Is America Becoming A Nation Of Ex-Cons?, John A. Humbach Jan 2015

Is America Becoming A Nation Of Ex-Cons?, John A. Humbach

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Recent rates of mass incarceration have become a concern, but those rates are only part of the challenge facing (and posed by) the American criminal justice system. An estimated 25% of the U.S. adult population already has a criminal record and, with new felony convictions churning out at a rate of a million per year, America is well on its way to becoming a nation of ex-cons. Already, the ex-offender class is the nation’s biggest law-defined, legally discriminated-against minority group, and it is growing. The adverse social implications of this trend remain unclear and the critical demographic tipping point is …


"I Am Opposed To This Procedure": How Kafka's In The Penal Colony Illuminates The Current Debate About Solitary Confinement And Oversight Of American Prisons, Michael B. Mushlin Jan 2015

"I Am Opposed To This Procedure": How Kafka's In The Penal Colony Illuminates The Current Debate About Solitary Confinement And Oversight Of American Prisons, Michael B. Mushlin

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

This is the 100th anniversary of Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony. The story brilliantly imagines a gruesome killing machine at the epicenter of a mythical prison's operations. The torture caused by this apparatus comes to an end only after the “Traveler,” an outsider invited to the penal colony by the new leader of the prison, condemns it. In the unfolding of the tale, Kafka vividly portrays how, even with the best of intentions, the mental and physical well-being of inmates will be jeopardized when total control is given to people who run the prisons with no independent oversight.

At …


Sonic Jihad — Muslim Hip Hop In The Age Of Mass Incarceration, Spearit Jan 2015

Sonic Jihad — Muslim Hip Hop In The Age Of Mass Incarceration, Spearit

Articles

This essay examines hip hop music as a form of legal criticism. It focuses on the music as critical resistance and “new terrain” for understanding the law, and more specifically, focuses on what prisons mean to Muslim hip hop artists. Losing friends, family, and loved ones to the proverbial belly of the beast has inspired criticism of criminal justice from the earliest days of hip hop culture. In the music, prisons are known by a host of names like “pen,” “bing,” and “clink,” terms that are invoked throughout the lyrics. The most extreme expressions offer violent fantasies of revolution and …


Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr Dec 2014

Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Using rich data linking federal cases from arrest through to sentencing, we find that initial case and defendant characteristics, including arrest offense and criminal history, can explain most of the large raw racial disparity in federal sentences, but significant gaps remain. Across the distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than those of comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors’ initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Ceteris paribus, the odds of black arrestees facing such a charge are 1.75 times higher than …


Sentencing, Drugs, And Prisons: A Lesson From Ohio, Jelani Jefferson Exum Jan 2014

Sentencing, Drugs, And Prisons: A Lesson From Ohio, Jelani Jefferson Exum

Faculty Publications

(Excerpt)

Prison overcrowding has become a familiar story. Current data shows that more than 1 in 100 adults in America—over 2 million people—are incarcerated, earning the United States the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. It should not be a surprise, therefore, that state and federal prisons are reaching and exceeding capacity. Nor should it be a shock that drug offenders take up many of the beds in those overcapacity prisons. Relative to other crimes, drug sentencing in the United States has been increasingly harsh since the 1970s, and the prison population is feeling the effects …


Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin Jan 2014

Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin

Publications

In 2009, Belgium and the Netherlands announced a deal to send approximately 500 Belgian inmates to Dutch prisons, in exchange for an annual payment of £26 million. The arrangement was unprecedented, but justified as beneficial to both nations: Belgium had too many prisoners and not enough prisons, whereas the Netherlands had too many prisons and not enough prisoners. The deal has yet to be replicated, nor has it triggered sustained criticism or received significant scholarly treatment. This Article aims to fill this void by examining the exchange and its possible implications for a global market in prisoners and prison space. …


Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin Jan 2014

Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin

Scholarship@WashULaw

In 2009, Belgium and the Netherlands announced a deal to send approximately 500 Belgian inmates to Dutch prisons, in exchange for an annual payment of £26 million. The arrangement was unprecedented, but justified as beneficial to both nations: Belgium had too many prisoners and not enough prisons, whereas the Netherlands had too many prisons and not enough prisoners. The deal has yet to be replicated, nor has it triggered sustained criticism or received significant scholarly treatment. This Article aims to fill this void by examining the exchange and its possible implications for a global market in prisoners and prison space. …


Gender & Sexuality In The Aba Standards On The Treatment Of Prisoners, Margaret Colgate Love, Giovanna Shay Jan 2012

Gender & Sexuality In The Aba Standards On The Treatment Of Prisoners, Margaret Colgate Love, Giovanna Shay

Faculty Scholarship

Over the past three decades, commentators, advocates, and corrections experts have focused increasingly on issues of gender and sexuality in prison. This is due in part to the growing number of women in a generally burgeoning American prison population. It is also attributable to efforts to end custodial sexual abuse and prison sexual violence, which have focused attention on issues relating to women and LGBT prisoners. Also, in part, this heightened attention reflects the influence of growing free-world social movements emphasizing the "intersectionality" of multiple forms of subordination and seeking to secure fair treatment of gay and transgender people.

This …


Plowing In Hope: A Three-Part Framework For Incorporating Restorative Justice Into Sentencing And Correctional Systems, Lynn S. Branham Jan 2012

Plowing In Hope: A Three-Part Framework For Incorporating Restorative Justice Into Sentencing And Correctional Systems, Lynn S. Branham

All Faculty Scholarship

This essay proposes the adoption of a three-part framework to effectuate fundamental changes in conventional sentencing and correctional constructs, making restorative justice a mainstay of sentencing and correctional systems. First, federal, state, and local governments would authorize the imposition of what would be – in name, purpose, and content – “restorative sentences.” The growing, processing, and distribution of locally grown foods in low-income neighborhoods particularly afflicted by crime is an example of what could become a prevalent restorative sentence. The essay outlines a number of steps to be undertaken by jurisdictions in order to realize the goals of restorative sentencing. …