Exploring the Group-Identity Function of Criminal Law

15 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2008 Last revised: 20 Dec 2008

Date Written: October 24, 2008


In every country where the question has been studied, incarceration rates for members of some minority groups greatly exceed those for the majority population. The problem of disproportionate incarceration is not therefore a problem of one ethnic group or one set of historical circumstances. It is a human problem that is fundamentally connected to social group identity. This essay conducts a preliminary exploration of the role that criminal law serves in group-identity formation. It suggests that building a common or super-group identity may be necessary to achieve greater justice in increasingly multi-ethnic and mobile societies.

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Molly Townes, Exploring the Group-Identity Function of Criminal Law (October 24, 2008). ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 08-39, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1289008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1289008

Molly Townes O'Brien (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Territory 0200
02-6125-0437 (Phone)

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