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Punishment

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Trouble With Time Served, Kimberly Ferzan Jul 2023

The Trouble With Time Served, Kimberly Ferzan

All Faculty Scholarship

Every jurisdiction in the United States gives criminal defendants “credit” against their sentence for the time they spend detained pretrial. In a world of mass incarceration and overcriminalization that disproportionately impacts people of color, this practice appears to be a welcome mechanism for mercy and justice. In fact, however, crediting detainees for time served is perverse. It harms the innocent. A defendant who is found not guilty, or whose case is dismissed, gets nothing. Crediting time served also allows the state to avoid internalizing the full costs of pretrial detention, thereby making overinclusive detention standards less expensive. Finally, crediting time …


Less Is More?: Accountability For White-Collar Offenses Through An Abolitionist Framework, Pedro Gerson Apr 2023

Less Is More?: Accountability For White-Collar Offenses Through An Abolitionist Framework, Pedro Gerson

Faculty Scholarship

White-collar crime is underenforced: not enough cases are brought, not many convictions are secured, and when they are, those who were convicted usually benefit from leniency not seen in other kinds of criminal wrongdoing. Calls for accountability center on strengthening the traditional tools of criminal law enforcement to reach actors that have so far eluded criminal liability. These responses, however, risk further entrenching the systems that have led the United States to mass incarceration and its many real and tangible harms. In this Article, I question whether an abolitionist framework is possible for white-collar crime. First, I argue that given …


No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller Mar 2023

No Sense Of Decency, Kathryn E. Miller

Articles

For nearly seventy years, the Court has assessed Eighth Amendment claims by evaluating “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” In this Article, I examine the evolving standards of decency test, which has long been a punching bag for critics on both the right and the left. Criticism of the doctrine has been fierce, but largely academic until recent years. Some fault the test for being too majoritarian, while others argue that it provides few constraints on the Justices’ discretion, permitting their personal predilections to rule the day. For many, the test is seen …


The Carceral Home, Kate Weisburd Jan 2023

The Carceral Home, Kate Weisburd

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

In virtually all areas of law, the home is the ultimate constitutionally protected area, at least in theory. In practice, a range of modern institutions that target private life—from public housing to child welfare—have turned the home into a routinely surveilled space. Indeed, for the 4.5 million people on criminal court supervision, their home is their prison, or what I call a “carceral home.” Often in the name of decarceration, prison walls are replaced with restrictive rules that govern every aspect of private life and invasive surveillance technology that continuously records intimate information. While prisons have always been treated in …


The Visualities And Aesthetics Of Prosecuting Aged Defendants, Mark Drumbl, Caroline Fournet Jan 2022

The Visualities And Aesthetics Of Prosecuting Aged Defendants, Mark Drumbl, Caroline Fournet

Scholarly Articles

The prosecution—whether domestic or international—of international crimes and atrocities may implicate extremely aged defendants. Much has been written about the legalisms that inhere (or not) in trying these barely alive individuals. Very little however has been written about the aesthetics the barely alive encrust into the architecture of courtrooms, the optics these defendants suffuse into the trial process, and the expressive value of punishing them. This is what we seek to do in this project.


"Only To Have A Say In The Way He Dies:" Bodily Autonomy And Methods Of Execution, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

"Only To Have A Say In The Way He Dies:" Bodily Autonomy And Methods Of Execution, Alexandra L. Klein

Faculty Articles

Capital punishment is one of the most significant intrusions into a person's bodily autonomy; the state takes a person's life. Even though the state has stripped a person on death row of much of their autonomy and intends to kill them, removing all autonomy, a person sentenced to death may, in some circumstances, choose how they will die. While most states rely on a single method of execution, some states permit a condemned person to choose among two or more methods of execution. Constitutional challenges to methods of execution requires the challenger to demonstrate a substantial risk of severe pain …


Criminal Justice Secrets, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2022

Criminal Justice Secrets, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The American criminal justice system is cloaked in secrecy. The government employs covert surveillance operations. Grand-jury proceedings are hidden from public view. Prosecutors engage in closed-door plea-bargaining and bury exculpatory evidence. Juries convict defendants on secret evidence. Jury deliberations are a black box. And jails and prisons implement clandestine punishment practices. Although there are some justifications for this secrecy, the ubiquitous nature of it is contrary to this nation’s Founders’ steadfast belief in the transparency of criminal justice proceedings. Further, the pervasiveness of secrecy within today’s criminal justice system raises serious constitutional concerns. The accumulation of secrecy and the aggregation …


Criminal Acts And Basic Moral Equality, John A. Humbach Jan 2022

Criminal Acts And Basic Moral Equality, John A. Humbach

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Modern criminal justice presupposes that persons are not morally equal. On the contrary, those who do wrong are viewed by the law as less worthy of respect, concern and decent treatment: Offenders, it is said, “deserve” to suffer for their misdeeds. Yet, there is scant logical or empirical basis for the law's supposition that offenders are morally inferior. The usual reasoning is that persons who intentionally or knowingly do wrong are the authors and initiators of their acts and, as such, are morally responsible for them. But this reasoning rests on the assumption that a person's mental states, such as …


When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2022

When Police Volunteer To Kill, Alexandra L. Klein

Faculty Articles

The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection, yet states continue to struggle with drug shortages and botched executions. Some states have authorized alternative methods of execution, including the firing squad. Utah, which has consistently carried out firing squad executions throughout its history, relies on police officers from the jurisdiction where the crime took place to volunteer to carry out these executions. This represents a plausible-and probable method for other states in conducting firing squad executions.

Public and academic discussion of the firing squad has centered on questions of pain and suffering. It has not engaged with the …


The Costs Of The Punishment Clause, Cortney E. Lollar Jan 2022

The Costs Of The Punishment Clause, Cortney E. Lollar

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Criminal punishment pursuant to a facially valid conviction in a court of law is an uncontested exception to the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition on slavery and involuntary servitude. After all, the Constitutional text reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” And yet, beginning almost immediately after the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted, states regularly employed criminal statutes to limit the movement and behaviors of those previously enslaved and subject them to slavery-type labor camps in conditions that closely mirrored slavery. Because neither the …


Trump, Lawyer Regulation, And The Institutional Double Bind, Benjamin H. Barton Jan 2022

Trump, Lawyer Regulation, And The Institutional Double Bind, Benjamin H. Barton

Scholarly Works

Scandals, news stories, and court setbacks that would have devastated other, more traditional Presidents have seemingly only made Donald Trump’s bond with his supporters stronger. This creates a challenge when institutions try to punish anyone in Trump’s orbit. Taking action against Trump only encourages his supporters, while inaction may lessen the left’s faith in institutions and leave opponents of President Trump wondering why nothing is being done to curtail what they see as flagrant criminal contempt. This is a problem the author calls the “institutional double bind.” This Essay discusses whether there is any solution for these institutions stuck in …


Proportionality, Constraint, And Culpability, Mitchell N. Berman Sep 2021

Proportionality, Constraint, And Culpability, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

Philosophers of criminal punishment widely agree that criminal punishment should be “proportional” to the “seriousness” of the offense. But this apparent consensus is only superficial, masking significant dissensus below the surface. Proposed proportionality principles differ on several distinct dimensions, including: (1) regarding which offense or offender properties determine offense “seriousness” and thus constitute a proportionality relatum; (2) regarding whether punishment is objectionably disproportionate only when excessively severe, or also when excessively lenient; and (3) regarding whether the principle can deliver absolute (“cardinal”) judgments, or only comparative (“ordinal”) ones. This essay proposes that these differences cannot be successfully adjudicated, and one …


American Punishment And Pandemic, Danielle C. Jefferis Jul 2021

American Punishment And Pandemic, Danielle C. Jefferis

Faculty Scholarship

Many of the sites of the worst outbreaks of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are America’s prisons and jails. As of March 2021, the virus has infected hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people and well over two thousand have died as a result contracting the disease caused by the virus. Prisons and jails have been on perpetual lockdowns since the onset of the pandemic, with family visits suspended and some facilities resorting to solitary confinement to mitigate the virus’s spread, thereby exacerbating the punitiveness and harmfulness of incarceration. With the majority of the 2.3 million people incarcerated …


After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne Jul 2021

After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne

All Faculty Scholarship

While an offender’s conduct before and during the crime is the traditional focus of criminal law and sentencing rules, an examination of post-offense conduct can also be important in promoting criminal justice goals. After the crime, different offenders make different choices and have different experiences, and those differences can suggest appropriately different treatment by judges, correctional officials, probation and parole supervisors, and other decision-makers in the criminal justice system.

Positive post-offense conduct ought to be acknowledged and rewarded, not only to encourage it but also as a matter of fair and just treatment. This essay describes four kinds of positive …


Darryl Robinson's Model For International Criminal Law: Deontic Principles Developed Through A Coherentist Approach, Milena Sterio Apr 2021

Darryl Robinson's Model For International Criminal Law: Deontic Principles Developed Through A Coherentist Approach, Milena Sterio

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

Darryl Robinson’s new book, Justice in Extreme Cases: Criminal Law Theory Meets International Criminal Law, presents a compelling argument: that international criminal law would benefit from deontic reasoning. According to Robinson, this type of deontic reasoning “requires us to consider the limits of personal fault and punishability,” and is a “normative reasoning that focuses on our duties and obligations to others.” Moreover, Robinson argues in this book that coherentism is the best method for identifying and defining deontic principles. Robinson explains that coherentism is an approach where “[w]e use all of our critical reasoning tools to test past understandings …


Objective Punishment, Anthony M. Dillof Jan 2021

Objective Punishment, Anthony M. Dillof

Law Faculty Research Publications

Should the punishment fit the criminal as well as the crime? The article argues that idiosyncratic features of the criminal that might affect subjective punishment experience should not be considered when assessing the severity of the punishment for proportionality purposes.


The Problem Of Problem-Solving Courts, Erin Collins Jan 2021

The Problem Of Problem-Solving Courts, Erin Collins

Law Faculty Publications

The creation of a specialized, “problem-solving” court is a ubiquitous response to the issues that plague our criminal legal system. The courts promise to address the factors believed to lead to repeated interactions with the system, such as addiction or mental illness, thereby reducing recidivism and saving money. And they do so effectively — at least according to their many proponents, who celebrate them as an example of a successful “evidence-based,” data-driven reform. But the actual data on their efficacy is underwhelming, inconclusive, or altogether lacking. So why do they persist?

This Article seeks to answer that question by scrutinizing …


Meaningless Guarantees: Comment On Mitchell E. Mccloy's “Blind Justice: Virginia's Jury Sentencing Scheme And Impermissible Burdens On A Defendant's Right To A Jury Trial", Alexandra L. Klein Jan 2021

Meaningless Guarantees: Comment On Mitchell E. Mccloy's “Blind Justice: Virginia's Jury Sentencing Scheme And Impermissible Burdens On A Defendant's Right To A Jury Trial", Alexandra L. Klein

Faculty Articles

Despite the important role that jurors play in the American criminal justice system, jurors are often deprived of critical information that might help them make sense of the law their oaths require them to follow. Such information with regard to sentencing might include the unavailability of parole, geriatric release, sentencing guidelines, or other information that is relevant to determining a defendant's penalty. Withholding information from juries, particularly in sentencing, risks unjust and inequitable sentences. Keeping jurors in the dark perpetuates injustices and undermines public confidence and trust in the justice system.

Mitch McCloy's excellent Note provides a compelling illustration of …


Offenders And Sorn Laws, Amanda Agan, J.J. Prescott Jan 2021

Offenders And Sorn Laws, Amanda Agan, J.J. Prescott

Book Chapters

Chapter 7 describes what we know about the effects of SORN laws on criminal behavior. A coherent story emerges from this review: there is virtually no evidence that SORN laws reduce recidivism or otherwise increase public safety. The chapter first delineates the various ways registration and notification alter the legal environment not only for registrants but also for nonregistrants, the public, and law enforcement. There are many channels through which SORN laws might impact the frequency of sex offenses, including some that would produce an increase in overall offending. The chapter assesses these possibilities in light of a large body …


Entitlement To Punishment, Kyron J. Huigens Jan 2021

Entitlement To Punishment, Kyron J. Huigens

Articles

This Article advances the idea of entitlement to punishment as the core of a normative theory of legal punishment's moral justification. It presents an alternative to normative theories of punishment premised on desert or public welfare; that is, to retributivism and consequentialism. The argument relies on H.L.A. Hart's theory of criminal law as a "choosing system," his theory of legal rules, and his theory of rights. It posits the advancement of positive freedom as a morally justifying function of legal punishment.

An entitlement to punishment is a unique, distinctive legal relation. We impose punishment when an offender initiates an ordered …


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

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

All Faculty Scholarship

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 our …


May The State Punish What It May Not Prevent?, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jul 2020

May The State Punish What It May Not Prevent?, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

In Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought? I defended an overlooked principle of criminalization that I called the Enforceability Constraint. The Enforceability Constraint holds that the state may punish transgressions of a given type only if the state in principle may forcibly disrupt such transgressions on the ground that they are criminal wrongs. As I argued in the essay, the reason why the state is forbidden from punishing thought is that the state is forbidden from forcibly disrupting a person’s mental states on the ground that they are criminally wrongful (as opposed to, say, on the ground that they …


Law School News: Faq For 1ls 04-16-2020, Roger Williams University School Of Law Apr 2020

Law School News: Faq For 1ls 04-16-2020, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


Evidence, Arrest Circumstances, And Felony Cocaine Case Processing, Jacqueline G. Lee, Alexander Testa Apr 2020

Evidence, Arrest Circumstances, And Felony Cocaine Case Processing, Jacqueline G. Lee, Alexander Testa

Criminal Justice Faculty Publications and Presentations

Case evidence and situational arrest characteristics are widely speculated to influence courtroom actor decisions, yet such measures are infrequently included in research. Using new data on felony cocaine cases from an urban county in a Southern non-guideline state, this study examines how physical evidence and arrest circumstances affect three stages of case processing: initial charge type, charge reduction, and sentence length. The influence of evidence appeared strongest at the early stage when prosecutors chose the appropriate charge, though certain evidentiary and arrest measures continued to influence later decisions. Charge reductions were driven mostly by legal factors, and while guilt should …


Law School News: 'Injustice Dehumanizes Everyone It Touches' 1-31-2020, Michael M. Bowden Jan 2020

Law School News: 'Injustice Dehumanizes Everyone It Touches' 1-31-2020, Michael M. Bowden

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


From The Legal Literature: Disentangling Prison And Punishment, Francesca Laguardia Jan 2020

From The Legal Literature: Disentangling Prison And Punishment, Francesca Laguardia

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

No abstract provided.


Detecting Mens Rea In The Brain, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Gideon Yaffe Jan 2020

Detecting Mens Rea In The Brain, Owen D. Jones, Read Montague, Gideon Yaffe

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

What if the widely used Model Penal Code (MPC) assumes a distinction between mental states that doesn’t actually exist? The MPC assumes, for instance, that there is a real distinction in real people between the mental states it defines as “knowing” and “reckless.” But is there?

If there are such psychological differences, there must also be brain differences. Consequently, the moral legitimacy of the Model Penal Code’s taxonomy of culpable mental states – which punishes those in defined mental states differently – depends on whether those mental states actually correspond to different brain states in the way the MPC categorization …


Science And The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan Jan 2020

Science And The Eighth Amendment, Meghan J. Ryan

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

As time hurtles forward, new science constantly emerges, and many scientific fields can shed light on whether a punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual, or even on whether bail or fines are unconstitutionally excessive under the Eighth Amendment. In fact, in recent years, science has played an increasingly important role in the Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. From the development of an offender’s brain, to the composition of lethal injection drugs, even to measurements of pain, knowledge of various scientific fields is becoming central to understanding whether a punishment is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. There are a number of limits to …


Is Solitary Confinement A Punishment?, John F. Stinneford Jan 2020

Is Solitary Confinement A Punishment?, John F. Stinneford

UF Law Faculty Publications

The United States Constitution imposes a variety of constraints on the imposition of punishment, including the requirements that the punishment be authorized by a preexisting penal statute and ordered by a lawful judicial sentence. Today, prison administrators impose solitary confinement on thousands of prisoners despite the fact that neither of these requirements has been met. Is this imposition a “punishment without law,” or is it a mere exercise of administrative discretion? In an 1890 case called In re Medley, the Supreme Court held that solitary confinement is a separate punishment subject to constitutional restraints, but it has ignored this holding …


‘It’S Kinda Punishment’: Tandem Logics And Penultimate Power In The Penal Voluntary Sector For Canadian Youth, Abigail Salole Sep 2019

‘It’S Kinda Punishment’: Tandem Logics And Penultimate Power In The Penal Voluntary Sector For Canadian Youth, Abigail Salole

Publications and Scholarship

This paper draws on original empirical research in Ontario, Canada which analyses penal voluntary sector practice with youth in conflict with the law. I illustrate how youth penal voluntary sector practice (YPVS) operates alongside, or in tandem with the statutory criminal justice system. I argue that examining the PVS and the statutory criminal justice system simultaneously, or in tandem, provides fuller understandings of PVS inclusionary (and exclusionary) control practices (Tomczak and Thompson 2017). I introduce the concept of penultimate power, which demonstrates the ability of PVS workers to trigger criminal justice system response toward a young person in conflict …