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Full-Text Articles in Law

Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse Nov 2020

Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay responds to Hirstein, Sifferd and Fagan’s book, Responsible Brains (MIT Press, 2018), which claims that executive function is the guiding mechanism that supports both responsible agency and the necessity for some excuses. In contrast, I suggest that executive function is not the universal acid and the neuroscience at present contributes almost nothing to the necessary psychological level of explanation and analysis. To the extent neuroscience can be useful, it is virtually entirely dependent on well-validated psychology to correlate with the neuroscientific variables under investigation. The essay considers what executive function is and what the neuroscience adds to ...


Covid And Crime: An Early Empirical Look, David S. Abrams Nov 2020

Covid And Crime: An Early Empirical Look, David S. Abrams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Data from 25 large U.S. cities is assembled to estimate the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on crime. There is a widespread immediate drop in both criminal incidents and arrests most heavily pronounced among drug crimes, theft, residential burglaries, and most violent crimes. The decline appears to precede stay-at-home orders, and arrests follow a similar pattern as reports. There is no decline in homicides and shootings, and an increase in non-residential burglary and car theft in most cities, suggesting that criminal activity was displaced to locations with fewer people. Pittsburgh, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia ...


Sobering Up After The Seventh Inning: Alcohol And Crime Around The Ballpark, Jonathan Klick, John M. Macdonald Apr 2020

Sobering Up After The Seventh Inning: Alcohol And Crime Around The Ballpark, Jonathan Klick, John M. Macdonald

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Objectives: This study examines the impact of alcohol consumption in a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium on area level counts of crime. The modal practice at MLB stadiums is to stop selling alcoholic beverages after the seventh inning. Baseball is not a timed game, so the duration between end of the seventh inning (last call for alcohol) and the end of the game varies considerably, providing a unique natural experiment that allows us to estimate the relationship between alcohol consumption and crime near a stadium on game days to non-game days and to areas around sports bars that fans also ...


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 ...


The Cost Of Doing Business: Corporate Crime And Punishment Post-Crisis, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin Feb 2020

The Cost Of Doing Business: Corporate Crime And Punishment Post-Crisis, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For many years, law and economics scholars, as well as politicians and regulators, have debated whether corporate criminal enforcement overdeters beneficial corporate activity or in the alternative, lets corporate criminals off too easily. This debate has recently expanded in its polarization: On the one hand, academics, judges, and politicians have excoriated the DOJ for failing to send guilty bankers to jail in the wake of the financial crisis; on the other, the DOJ has since relaxed policies aimed to secure individual lability and reduced the size of fines and number of prosecutions.

A crucial and yet understudied piece of evidence ...


The Expansive Reach Of Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton Feb 2020

The Expansive Reach Of Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Today we know much more about the effects of pretrial detention than we did even five years ago. Multiple empirical studies have emerged that shed new light on the far-reaching impacts of bail decisions made at the earliest stages of the criminal adjudication process. The takeaway from this new generation of studies is that pretrial detention has substantial downstream effects on both the operation of the criminal justice system and on defendants themselves, causally increasing the likelihood of a conviction, the severity of the sentence, and, in some jurisdictions, defendants’ likelihood of future contact with the criminal justice system. Detention ...


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 ...


Mitigations: The Forgotten Side Of The Proportionality Principle, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2020

Mitigations: The Forgotten Side Of The Proportionality Principle, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In the first change to the Model Penal Code since its promulgation in 1962, the American Law Institute in 2017 set blameworthiness proportionality as the dominant distributive principle for criminal punishment. Empirical studies suggest that this is in fact the principle that ordinary people use in assessing proper punishment. Its adoption as the governing distributive principle makes good sense because it promotes not only the classic desert retributivism of moral philosophers but also crime-control utilitarianism, by enhancing the criminal law’s moral credibility with the community and thereby promoting deference, compliance, acquiescence, and internalization of its norms, rather than suffering ...


The Opposite Of Punishment: Imagining A Path To Public Redemption, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne Jan 2020

The Opposite Of Punishment: Imagining A Path To Public Redemption, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The criminal justice system traditionally performs its public functions – condemning prohibited conduct, shaming and stigmatizing violators, promoting societal norms – through the use of negative examples: convicting and punishing violators. One could imagine, however, that the same public functions could also be performed through the use of positive examples: publicly acknowledging and celebrating offenders who have chosen a path of atonement through confession, apology, making amends, acquiescing in just punishment, and promising future law abidingness. An offender who takes this path arguably deserves official public recognition, an update of all records and databases to record the public redemption, and an exemption ...


Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson Jan 2020

Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Recent scholarship has underlined the importance of criminal misdemeanor law enforcement, including the impact of public-order policing on communities of color, the collateral consequences of misdemeanor arrest or conviction, and the use of misdemeanor prosecution to raise municipal revenue. But despite the fact that misdemeanors represent more than three-quarters of all criminal cases filed annually in the United States, our knowledge of misdemeanor case processing is based mostly on anecdote and extremely localized research. This Article represents the most substantial empirical analysis of misdemeanor case processing to date. Using multiple court-record datasets, covering several million cases across eight diverse jurisdictions ...


The Concept Of Criminal Law, Sandra G. Mayson Jan 2020

The Concept Of Criminal Law, Sandra G. Mayson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

What distinguishes “criminal law” from all other law? This question should be central to both criminal law theory and criminal justice reform. Clarity about the distinctive feature(s) of criminal law is especially important in the current moment, as the nation awakens to the damage that the carceral state has wrought and reformers debate the value and the future of criminal law institutions. Foundational though it is, however, the question has received limited attention. There is no clear consensus among contemporary scholars or reformers about what makes the criminal law unique.

This Essay argues that Antony Duff’s The Realm ...