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

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

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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. …


Criminal (In)Justice And Democracy In America, Stephanos Bibas Mar 2013

Criminal (In)Justice And Democracy In America, Stephanos Bibas

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This essay responds to Nicola Lacey’s review of my recent book The Machinery of Criminal Justice (Oxford Univ. Press 2012). Lacey entirely overlooks the book’s fundamental distinction between making criminal justice policy wholesale and adjudicating deserved punishment at the retail level, in individual cases, which is quite consistent with keeping but tempering rules. She also undervalues America’s deep commitments to federalism, localism, and democratic self-government and overlooks the related problem of agency costs in criminal justice. Her top-down approach colors her desire to pursue equality judicially, to the exclusion of the political branches. Finally, Lacey denigrates the legitimate roles of …