The Accelerating Degradation of American Criminal Codes
25 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2005
In the 1960s and 1970s, states across the country were caught up in a wave of criminal law reform unprecedented in our history. Influenced by the American Law Institute's development of the Model Penal Code, more than two-thirds of the states adopted comprehensive new criminal codes. Since that time, there has been little momentum for further development or refinement of American criminal codes. Worse, the changes of the criminal codes over the past generation have undercut, rather than built on, the useful reforms implemented earlier. The last thirty years have seen a serious and growing degradation of most criminal codes.
Part I of this article documents examples of the degradation trend and describes its harmful effects. Part II discusses the current political processes and incentives driving the derogation of criminal law. Part III discusses the structuring of future criminal code reform.
Keywords: Criminal codes
JEL Classification: K14
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