December 19, 2015
The institutions of criminal law, especially in the United States, face a host of serious challenges. More and more behavior is criminalized, often without coherent, principled justification. Incarceration rates in the United States far exceed those of many other countries, despite a lack of consensus among practitioners, policy-makers, or even theorists about the aims and limits of punishment. And even after completing punishment, ex-offenders continue to face legal restrictions on housing, employment, and other goods that they need to rebuild their lives and avoid reoffending.
Confronting these challenges, and the myriad others facing the criminal law, may seem overwhelming. Thus for its 2014 Annual Conference, the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice narrowed the parameters a bit. We asked, “If you could make one change to the criminal law, what would it be?” We asked contributors to think big — not to shy away from controversial, even radical proposals for reform. We received numerous submissions; ultimately, we chose 12 papers that offered proposals we found both normatively rich and provocative. The papers address a wide range of topics: policing, sex crimes, plea bargaining, juries, judicial power, criminal responsibility, custody, and copyright infringement. They are working papers, not final proposals, published now in the spirit of continuing the conversations that began at the Annual Conference.