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Columbia Law School

Criminal Law

Mass incarceration

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Leading With Conviction: The Transformative Role Of Formerly Incarcerated Leaders In Reducing Mass Incarceration, Susan P. Sturm, Haran Tae Jan 2017

Leading With Conviction: The Transformative Role Of Formerly Incarcerated Leaders In Reducing Mass Incarceration, Susan P. Sturm, Haran Tae

Faculty Scholarship

This report documents the roles of formerly incarcerated leaders engaged in work related to reducing incarceration and rebuilding communities, drawing on in-depth interviews with 48 of these leaders conducted over a period of 14 months. These “leaders with conviction” have developed a set of capabilities that enable them to advance transformative change, both in the lives of individuals affected by mass incarceration and in the criminal legal systems that have devastated so many lives and communities. Their leadership assumes particular importance in the era of the Trump Presidency, when the durability of the ideological coalitions to undo the failed apparatus ...


The Systems Fallacy: From Operations Research To Contemporary Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Perils Of Systems Analysis, Past And Present, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2013

The Systems Fallacy: From Operations Research To Contemporary Cost-Benefit Analysis: The Perils Of Systems Analysis, Past And Present, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

This article analyzes the birth and emergence of the idea of the “criminal justice system” in the 1960s and the fundamentally transformative effect that the idea of a “system” has had in the area of criminal law and criminal procedure. The manuscript develops a critique of the systems analytic approach to legal and policy decision making. It then discusses how that critique relates to the broader area of public policy and contemporary cost-benefit analysis.

The article identifies what it calls “the systems fallacy” or the central problem with approaching policy questions from a systems analytic approach: namely, the hidden normative ...


The Influence Of Systems Analysis On Criminal Law And Procedure: A Critique Of A Style Of Judicial Decision-Making, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2013

The Influence Of Systems Analysis On Criminal Law And Procedure: A Critique Of A Style Of Judicial Decision-Making, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

This draft analyzes the birth and emergence of the idea of the “criminal justice system” in the 1960s and the fundamentally transformative effect that the idea of a “system” has had in the area of criminal law and criminal procedure. The manuscript develops a critique of the systems analytic approach to legal and policy decision making. It then discusses how that critique relates to the broader area of public policy and contemporary cost-benefit analysis.

The draft identifies what it calls “the systems fallacy” or the central problem with approaching policy questions from a systems analytic approach: namely, the hidden normative ...


On The American Paradox Of Laissez Faire And Mass Incarceration, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2012

On The American Paradox Of Laissez Faire And Mass Incarceration, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In The Illusion of Free Markets (Harvard 2011), Professor Bernard Harcourt analyzes the evolution of a distinctly American paradox: in the country that has done the most to promote the idea of a hands-off government, we run the single largest prison complex in the entire world. Harcourt traces this paradox back to the eighteenth century and demonstrates how the presumption of government incompetence in economic affairs has been coupled with that of government legitimacy in the realm of policing and punishing. Harcourt shows how these linked presumptions have fueled the expansion of the carceral sphere in the nineteenth and twentieth ...


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 ...


An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2011

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 suggests that mass incarceration in the United States may have contributed to lower rates of violent crime since the 1990s but, surprisingly, finds no evidence of an effect of imprisonment on violent crime prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt has called “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to the puzzle: the error in all prior studies is that they focus exclusively on rates of imprisonment, rather than using a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel-data regressions over the 68-year period from 1934 to 2001 and controlling for ...


Neoliberal Penality: A Brief Genealogy, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2009

Neoliberal Penality: A Brief Genealogy, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

The turn of the twenty first century witnessed important shifts in punishment practices. The most shocking is mass incarceration – the exponential rise in prisoners in state and federal penitentiaries and in county jails beginning in 1973. It is tempting to view these developments as evidence of something new that emerged in the 1970s – of a new culture of control, a new penology, or a new turn to biopower. But it would be a mistake to place too much emphasis on the 1970s since most of the recent trends have antecedents and parallels in the early twentieth century. It is important ...