Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=699842
 
 

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Law Without Justice: Why Criminal Law Doesn't Give People What They Deserve


Paul H. Robinson


University of Pennsylvania Law School

Michael T. Cahill


Brooklyn Law School


Paul H. Robinson and Michael T. Cahill, LAW WITHOUT JUSTICE: WHY CRIMINAL LAW DOESN'T GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY DESERVE, Oxford University Press, 2005

Abstract:     
If an innocent person is sent to prison or if a killer walks free, we are outraged. The legal system assures us, and we expect and demand, that it will seek to do justice in criminal cases. So why, for some cases, does the criminal law deliberately and routinely sacrifice justice? Why would criminal law rules be designed to give people punishment other than what they deserve?

In this unflinching look at American criminal law, Paul Robinson and Michael Cahill demonstrate that cases with unjust outcomes are not always irregular or unpredictable. Rather, the criminal law sometimes chooses not to give defendants what they deserve: that is, unsatisfying results occur even when the system works as it is designed to work. Sometimes the law punishes more than is warranted, as in the case of Leandro Andrade, who stole $154 worth of videotapes and yet under California's three strikes law will spend at least fifty years in prison. Other times a legal rule punishes less than is merited, as with Sammy the Bull Gravano, a ruthless mob killer granted immunity for numerous murders in return for informing on his fellow Mafiosi.

Law without Justice comprehensively surveys the undeserved outcomes that occur because of law, rather than in spite of it. From statutes of limitations and double-jeopardy rules that disallow newly found evidence conclusively proving an offender's guilt, to harsh doctrines that ignore legitimate claims of blamelessness, the authors find that while some justice-sacrificing doctrines serve their intended purpose, many others do not, or could be replaced by other, better rules that would serve the purpose without abandoning a just result.

With a panoramic view of the overlapping and often competing goals that our legal institutions must balance on a daily basis, this book challenges us to restore justice to the criminal justice system.

Keywords: Criminal law, justice

JEL Classification: K14

Accepted Paper Series





Not Available For Download

Date posted: April 20, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Paul H. and Cahill, Michael T., Law Without Justice: Why Criminal Law Doesn't Give People What They Deserve. Paul H. Robinson and Michael T. Cahill, LAW WITHOUT JUSTICE: WHY CRIMINAL LAW DOESN'T GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY DESERVE, Oxford University Press, 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=699842

Contact Information

Paul H. Robinson (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
Michael T. Cahill
Brooklyn Law School ( email )
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-780-7943 (Phone)
718-780-0376 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.brooklaw.edu/faculty//profile/?page=267

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