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Columbia Law School

Incapacitation

Law Enforcement and Corrections

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Full-Text Articles in Law

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 ...


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

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

Faculty Scholarship

In a message to Congress in 1963, President John F. Kennedy outlined a federal program designed to reduce by half the number of persons in custody. The institutions at issue were state hospitals and asylums for the mentally ill, and the number of such persons in custody was staggeringly large, in fact comparable to contemporary levels of mass incarceration in prisons and jails. President Kennedy's message to Congress – the first and perhaps only presidential message to Congress that dealt exclusively with the issue of institutionalization in this country – proposed replacing state mental hospitals with community mental health centers, a ...


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 ...


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

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

Faculty Scholarship

The incarceration revolution of the late twentieth century fueled ongoing research on the relationship between rates of incarceration and crime, unemployment, education, and other social indicators. In this research, the variable intended to capture the level of confinement in society was conceptualized and measured as the rate of incarceration in state and federal prisons and county jails. This, however, fails to take account of other equally important forms of confinement, especially commitment to mental hospitals and asylums.

When the data on mental hospitalization rates are combined with the data on imprisonment rates for the period 1928 through 2000, the incarceration ...


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 ...