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Criminal justice policy

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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne Mar 2021

How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Solving criminal justice problems typically requires the enactment of new rules or the modification of existing ones. But there are some serious problems that can best be solved simply by altering the way in which the existing rules are drafted rather than by altering their content. This is the case with two of the most serious problems in criminal justice today: the problem of overlapping criminal offenses that create excessive prosecutorial charging discretion and the problem of legislative inconsistency and irrationality in grading offenses.

After examining these two problems and demonstrating their serious effects in perverting criminal justice, the essay ...


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 ...


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 ...


Applying Sentinel Event Reviews To Policing, John Hollway, Ben Grunwald Jan 2019

Applying Sentinel Event Reviews To Policing, John Hollway, Ben Grunwald

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A sentinel event review (SER) is a system-based, multistakeholder review of an organizational error. The goal of an SER is to prevent similar errors from recurring in the future rather than identifying and punishing the responsible parties. In this article, we provide a detailed description of one of the first SERs conducted in an American police department—the review of the Lex Street Massacre investigation and prosecution, which resulted in the wrongful incarceration of four innocent men for 18 months. The results of the review suggest that SERs may help identify new systemic reforms for participating police departments and other ...


“Second Looks, Second Chances”: Collaborating With Lifers Inc. On A Video About Commutation Of Lwop Sentences, Regina Austin Jan 2019

“Second Looks, Second Chances”: Collaborating With Lifers Inc. On A Video About Commutation Of Lwop Sentences, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In Pennsylvania, life means life without the possibility of parole (“LWOP”) or “death by incarceration.” Although executive commutation offers long serving rehabilitated lifers hope of release, in the past 20 years, only 8 commutations have been granted by the state’s governors. This article describes the collaboration between an organization of incarcerated persons serving LWOP and the law-school-based Penn Program on Documentaries and the Law that produced a video supporting increased commutations for Pennsylvania lifers. The article details the methodology of collaborative videomaking employed, the strategic decisions over content that were impacted by the politics of commutation, and the contributions ...


The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton Jan 2019

The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


African Americans And Punishment For Crime: A Critique Of Mainstream And Neoliberal Discourses, Jason M. Williams, Nishaun Tarae Battle Sep 2017

African Americans And Punishment For Crime: A Critique Of Mainstream And Neoliberal Discourses, Jason M. Williams, Nishaun Tarae Battle

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

Understandings of punishment within the criminological enterprise have failed to capture the nuances associated with experiencing punishment. Moreover, mainstream academic discourses are inherently anachronistic in their conclusions on punishment, thus leaving significant gaps to be filled. One such gap is that of racialized history. This article attempts to make sense of punishment discourses (past and present) by situating them in their proper context. We argue that punishment, in particular for Blacks, is ideological and longstanding. Moreover, we posit that the prolonged punishment of Blacks is hyper manifested in contemporary society via neoliberal logic that has increasingly disabled race as a ...


Democratizing Criminal Law As An Abolitionist Project, Dorothy E. Roberts Jan 2017

Democratizing Criminal Law As An Abolitionist Project, Dorothy E. Roberts

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The criminal justice system currently functions to exclude black people from full political participation. Myriad institutions, laws, and definitions within the criminal justice system subordinate and criminalize black people, thereby excluding them from electoral politics, and depriving them of material resources, social networks, family relationships, and legitimacy necessary for full political citizenship. Making criminal law democratic requires more than reform efforts to improve currently existing procedures and systems. Rather, it requires an abolitionist approach that will dismantle the criminal law’s anti-democratic aspects entirely and reconstitute the criminal justice system without them.


A Legal And Policy Argument For Bail Denial And Preventative Treatment For Batterers In The United States, Dawn Beichner, Robbin Ogle, Anne Garner, Daniel Anderson May 2015

A Legal And Policy Argument For Bail Denial And Preventative Treatment For Batterers In The United States, Dawn Beichner, Robbin Ogle, Anne Garner, Daniel Anderson

Papers in Women's and Gender Studies

Historically, battering has been a culturally and legally acceptable form of social control within the United States. This article provides an examination of how this legacy of social acceptance has influenced the development of laws and social policies related to battering. We provide a critique of our current approach to battering and our historical reliance on private or social helping agencies intended to hide and protect victims. We call for a transformation of our current policies that provides for the removal of the batterer—not the victim and her children—from the family home through a process of bail denial ...


When Poverty Is The Worst Crime Of All: A Film Review Of Gideon’S Army (2013), Jessica S Henry Oct 2013

When Poverty Is The Worst Crime Of All: A Film Review Of Gideon’S Army (2013), Jessica S Henry

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

This review of the Sundance Award-winning documentary film, Gideon’s Army, examines the disparate impact of the criminal justice system on the poor and, particularly, poor people of color.


Teaching The Carceral Crisis: An Ethical And Pedagogical Imperative, Taja-Nia Y. Henderson Jan 2013

Teaching The Carceral Crisis: An Ethical And Pedagogical Imperative, Taja-Nia Y. Henderson

University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class

"Teaching the Carceral Crisis: An Ethical and Pedagogical Imperative," demonstrates that although mass incarceration and mass conviction has increased in the United States, law school curricula has continued to lack any substantive discussion on these issues. The article highlights the need for law schools to improve their current curricula in order to prevent further stigmatization of criminal offenders and the continued increase of incarceration rates.


Across The Hudson: Taking The Stop And Frisk Debate Beyond New York City, David A. Harris Jan 2013

Across The Hudson: Taking The Stop And Frisk Debate Beyond New York City, David A. Harris

Articles

This article presents the results of a survey conducted by the author of 56 police departments across the country concerning the practice of data collection on stop and frisk practices of those police departments. These results are discussed against the backdrop of the debate on stop and frisk, examined in this article through a review of the legal basis for the practice and its use by police departments. The article then argues that greater data collection efforts in places other than New York City, where such efforts have been more robust than elsewhere, could broaden and deepen the debate on ...


The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas Jan 2011

The Pitfalls Of Professionalized Prosecution: A Response To Josh Bowers's "Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, And The Equitable Decision Not To Prosecute", Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This short essay responds to Josh Bowers’ article Legal Guilt, Normative Innocence, and the Equitable Decision Not to Prosecute. While most scholars focus on the most visible injustices in the most serious cases, Bowers rightly notes that this sliver of serious felonies is dwarfed by the mountain of minor, low-visibility misdemeanors and violations. Prosecutors are reasonably good at classifying crimes based on legal guilt and administrative criteria, but are far worse at weighing all the particulars and exercising equitable discretion. Our consistent faith in prosecutors’ expertise, Bowers argues, is not only misguided but backwards; we should value outsiders’ fresh perspectives ...


Concordance & Conflict In Intuitions Of Justice, Paul H. Robinson, Robert O. Kurzban Jun 2007

Concordance & Conflict In Intuitions Of Justice, Paul H. Robinson, Robert O. Kurzban

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The common wisdom among criminal law theorists and policy makers is that the notion of desert is vague and the subject to wide disagreement. Yet the empirical evidence in available studies, including new studies reported here, paints a dramatically different picture. While moral philosophers may disagree on some aspects of moral blameworthiness, people's intuitions of justice are commonly specific, nuanced, and widely shared. Indeed, with regard to the core harms and evils to which criminal law addresses itself – physical aggression, takings without consent, and deception in transactions – people's shared intuitions cut across demographics and cultures. The findings raise ...


Decentralizing Crime Control: The Political Economy Perspective, Doron Teichman Jun 2006

Decentralizing Crime Control: The Political Economy Perspective, Doron Teichman

Michigan Law Review

In an article recently published on the pages of this Law Review, The Market for Criminal Justice: Federalism, Crime Control, and Jurisdictional Competition ("The Market"), I put forward a theory of crime control in a decentralized government. Specifically, I made three distinct claims. First, criminal justice policies affect the geographic decision of criminals as to where to commit their crimes. Other things being equal, criminal activity will tend to shift to areas in which the expected sanction is lower. Second, local jurisdictions attempting to lower their crime rates will react to policies adopted by neighboring jurisdictions and try to keep ...


The Political Market For Criminal Justice, Rachel E. Barkow Jun 2006

The Political Market For Criminal Justice, Rachel E. Barkow

Michigan Law Review

In 2004, the number of individuals incarcerated in the United States exceeded the two million mark. The current incarceration rate in the United States is 726 per 100,000 residents, the highest incarceration rate in the Western world and a dramatic increase from just three decades ago. Not only are more people serving time, but sentences have markedly lengthened. What should we make of these trends? The answer has been easy for most legal scholars: to them, the incarceration rate in the United States is too high, and reforms are necessary to lower sentences. But many political leaders and voters ...


Crime, Criminals, And Competitive Crime Control, Wayne A. Logan Jun 2006

Crime, Criminals, And Competitive Crime Control, Wayne A. Logan

Michigan Law Review

Given the negative consequences of crime, it should come as no surprise that states will endeavor to make their dominions less hospitable to potential criminal actors. This predisposition, when played out on a national stage, would appear ripe for a dynamic in which states will seek to "out-tough" one another, leading to a spiral of detrimental competitiveness. Doran Teichman, in an article recently appearing in these pages, advances just such a view. Teichman posits that the decentralized structure of America's federalist system provides states with "an incentive to increasingly harshen" their crime control efforts, with the net result being ...