Socializing Law, Privatizing Law, Monopolizing Law, Accessing Law
28 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2006
Discussions about access to justice often focus on better representation for criminal defendants and on the restrictions placed on federally funded legal assistance programs. That focus ignores the structural choices made in the United States over the past 150 years, choices that have affected the poorest of our population's access to law enforcement institutions. The Article argues that the socialization of the criminal justice system has given the government a monopoly, which the government may not be operating responsibly. As one remedy, the Article suggests investing not only in additional criminal defense, but also in additional policing and prosecution. The essay also notes that the privatization of the civil justice system has led to financing systems that spread the costs and broaden plaintiffs' access to civil remedies. But these civil systems operate best where damages will be available. This leaves an enormous hole in the privatized system of access to law, particularly in divorce and custody adjudications. The essay argue argues that a different view of "access" would better serve the nation's poorest.
Keywords: criminal justice system, access to justice, access to civil remedies
JEL Classification: K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation