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Localism And Capital Punishment, Stephen F. Smith Nov 2013

Localism And Capital Punishment, Stephen F. Smith

Stephen F. Smith

Professor Adam Gershowitz presents an interesting proposal to transfer from localities to states the power to enforce the death penalty. In his view, state-level enforcement would result in a more rationally applied death penalty because states would be much more likely to make capital charging decisions based on desert, without the distorting influence of the severe resource constraints applicable to all but the wealthiest of localities. As well conceived as Professor Gershowitz’s proposal is, however, I remain skeptical that statewide enforcement of the death penalty would be preferable to continued local enforcement. First, Professor Gershowitz underestimates the benefits of localism …


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

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

All Faculty Scholarship

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 …