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Sociology

Criminal law

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Full-Text Articles in Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation

Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2018

Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This first chapter from the recently published book Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States documents the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment — desert, deterrence, incapacitation of the dangerous — that are officially recognized by law in each of the American states. The chapter contains two maps visually coded to display important differences: the first map shows which states have adopted desert, deterrence, or incapacitation as a distributive principle, while the second map shows which form of desert is adopted in those jurisdictions that recognize desert. Like all 38 chapters in the book, which covers a wide ...


Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 20 Statutory Rape, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2017

Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 20 Statutory Rape, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is common for criminal law scholars from outside the United States to discuss the “American rule” and compare it to the rule of other countries. As this volume makes clear, however, there is no such thing as an “American rule.” Because each of the states, plus the District of Columbia and the federal system, have their own criminal law, there are fifty-two American criminal codes.

American criminal law scholars know this, of course, but they too commonly speak of the “general rule” as if it reflects some consensus or near consensus position among the states. But the truth is ...


Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2017

Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is common for criminal law scholars from outside the United States to discuss the “American rule” and compare it to the rule of other countries. As this volume makes clear, however, there is no such thing as an “American rule.” Because each of the states, plus the District of Columbia and the federal system, have their own criminal law, there are fifty-two American criminal codes.

American criminal law scholars know this, of course, but they too commonly speak of the “general rule” as if it reflects some consensus or near consensus position among the states. But the truth is ...


Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2017

Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The notion of “democratizing criminal law” has an initial appeal because, after all, we believe in the importance of democracy and because criminal law is so important – it protects us from the most egregious wrongs and is the vehicle by which we allow the most serious governmental intrusions in the lives of individuals. Given criminal law’s special status, isn’t it appropriate that this most important and most intrusive governmental power be subject to the constraints of democratic determination?

But perhaps the initial appeal of this grand principle must give way to practical realities. As much as we are ...


Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick Jan 2016

Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

There is a 250 year old presumption in the criminology and law enforcement literature that people are deterred more by increases in the certainty rather than increases in the severity of legal sanctions. We call this presumption the Certainty Aversion Presumption (CAP). Simple criminal decision making models suggest that criminals must be risk-seeking if they behave consistently with CAP. This implication leads to disturbing interpretations, such as criminals being categorically different than law abiding people, who often display risk-averse behavior while making financial decisions. Moreover, policy discussions that incorrectly rely on criminals’ risk attitudes implied by CAP are ill-informed, and ...


What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2016

What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Equality in criminal sentencing often translates into equalizing outcomes and stamping out variations, whether race-based, geographic, or random. This approach conflates the concept of equality with one contestable conception focused on outputs and numbers, not inputs and processes. Racial equality is crucial, but a concern with eliminating racism has hypertrophied well beyond race. Equalizing outcomes seems appealing as a neutral way to dodge contentious substantive policy debates about the purposes of punishment. But it actually privileges deterrence and incapacitation over rehabilitation, subjective elements of retribution, and procedural justice, and it provides little normative guidance for punishment. It also has unintended ...