Beyond the Numbers: Toward a Moral Vision for Criminal Justice Reform

7 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2015

See all articles by Seth Mayer

Seth Mayer

Manchester University, Indiana

Italia Patti

West Virginia University College of Law

Date Written: June 10, 2015

Abstract

The diverse coalition of activists trying to cut the prison population has thus far failed to articulate a coherent moral foundation for criminal justice reform. Since the various constituents of this coalition support reform for different reasons, it may seem savvy to avoid conversation about moral questions. We argue, however, that failing to work toward developing a moral basis for reform puts the coalition at risk of repeating the failures of the sentencing reform movement of the 1970s and 1980s. This initially promising movement culminated in the passage of the widely disliked and deeply flawed United States Sentencing Guidelines. We lay out and analyze the downsides of avoiding moral discourse in criminal justice reform movements and argue for more collaboration and dialogue between moral thinkers and activists.

Keywords: criminal justice reform, philosophy, moral theory

Suggested Citation

Mayer, Seth and Patti, Italia, Beyond the Numbers: Toward a Moral Vision for Criminal Justice Reform (June 10, 2015). Drake Law Review Discourse, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2616754

Seth Mayer (Contact Author)

Manchester University, Indiana ( email )

North Manchester, IN 46962
United States

Italia Patti

West Virginia University College of Law ( email )

PO Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

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