Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Pardon and Parole in Prohibition-Era New York: Discretionary Justice in the Administrative State

Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 54(3), Forthcoming

Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 48/2017

27 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2017  

Carolyn Strange

Australian National University (ANU)

Date Written: June 15, 2017

Abstract

Historians of early-modern England and British colonies have productively applied Douglas Hay’s germinal study of mercy. In contrast, historians of the U.S. have overlooked the utility of the conceptual tools Hay provided to prise open the mitigation of punishment across time and place. In the decade that followed the First World War, disputes over the proper role of mercy and administrative discretion were as heated as they were in Hanoverian England. In Jazz Age New York, fears of gangsterism, and concern over the apparent laxity of parole regulations put the proponents of Progressive penology on the defensive. To analyse this moment, this essay asks what drove opinion against discretionary justice in the form of the pardon and parole, and traces the conditions that give rise to judgments that discretionary justice was too frequent and injudicious. A new vision of order, fixated on penal certainty, came into sharp focus over the 1920s, when mandatory sentencing statutes were introduced. Yet gubernatorial clemency survived that crisis, and in 1930 parole was professionalized and placed under stricter management. This paper confirms that modernity proved no match for discretionary justice. In its personal and administrative forms, it penetrates penal justice, despite the earnest drive to certainty and the persistent demands to terrorize criminals.

Keywords: Mandatory Sentencing, Mercy, Discretion, Criminal Justice, Parole

JEL Classification: K00, K140, K400, K420, N400

Suggested Citation

Strange, Carolyn, Pardon and Parole in Prohibition-Era New York: Discretionary Justice in the Administrative State (June 15, 2017). Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Vol. 54(3), Forthcoming; Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 48/2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2987331

Carolyn Strange (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Paper statistics

Downloads
16
Abstract Views
68