Carol S. Steiker and Jordan M. Steiker
This article explores the tedious and unsuccessful project of controlling the death penalty through constitutional law. It first studies the problems that have surrounded constitutional jurisprudence since the 1970s, and then addresses the question of whether capital-punishment regimes are likely to meet the general concerns of fairness in process and outcome. Unfortunately, it seems that the problems of politicization and racial discrimination—among others—still are resistant to reform. This article concludes that even the basic requirements for a properly administered capital-punishment regime do not exist—and may never be achieved—in the United States.
This article reviews the landscape of capital punishment as it now exists. Section I discusses the use of capital punishment internationally. Section II, reviews the use and characteristics of capital punishment in the United States. Section III discusses issues of race, and Section IV examines major Supreme Court decisions. Section V reviews arguments for and against capital punishment. Section VI discusses problems in the administration of capital punishment. Section VII discusses life without the possibility of parole. The article concludes with a discussion of what might be fruitful and important areas for future research, and a look at what the future of the death penalty might be.
Ronald F. Wright
This article shows how charging and plea bargaining can be used as forms of sentencing discretion. It first examines the claims that prosecutorial charging and plea bargaining discretion is a form of sentencing power, which appear to be largely true of American legal systems. Next, it discusses negotiation terms used by government and defense concessions. It also takes a look at the systemic effects of party negotiations and identifies the objectives that prosecutors hope to gain by selecting and amending charges and their sentencing recommendations. This article ends with a section on the limitations of prosecutorial discretion.
Due to the under-representation of females, public officials have paid less attention to understanding their offending or to developing and assessing prevention and intervention strategies for them. Attention to female offenders is now considered important because their numbers are growing in all spheres of criminal justice. This article explains what is currently known about girls and their juvenile justice experiences. It discusses the difficulty that exists in identifying gender bias because of the nature of juvenile justice processing. It then describes data sources about the offending patterns of girls and boys and examines how gender appears to affect juvenile justice processing. Following this, the article identifies difficulties for girls in access to treatment and services. It highlights deficiencies in knowledge about female-specific treatment. Finally, it gives recommendations for an integrated framework to assist in learning more about the problems girls face and ways to make their experiences with juvenile justice systems successful.
Julian V. Roberts
This article explores the role of the victim during sentencing and parole release proceedings in the United States and other common law jurisdictions. It reviews the empirical evidence of the effects of the victim's participation and distinguishes sentencing from parole. This article also introduces the principle of proportionality, which serves as either a main consideration in the setting of penalties, or as a limit placed upon the allowable severity of punishment.
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs: Four Destructive Influences of Capital Punishment on American Criminal Justice
Franklin E. Zimring and David T. Johnson
This article tries to show how capital punishment can become a destructive influence on American criminal justice. It first determines that due to the availability of the death penalty, there have been misrepresentations in the law of homicide. This has also led to “penal inflation,” which refers to the increased use of prison terms of life without parole (LWOP). It then notes that the general acceptance of most death penalty abolitionists of the use of LWOP sentences has resulted in an involuntary increase in the use of LWOP—one that exceeds the moderating effect on the use of the death penalty. It then addresses the continuous controversy over capital punishment, which has drained huge amounts of attention, resources, and energy that could have been used on reforms.
This article presents an overview of drug and other specialty courts. Section I defines specialty courts and traces their growth in number and types. It also explores the factors that sparked the specialty court movement. Section II examines drug courts, the most popular and prominent type of specialty court. It outlines key features of the drug court model, reviews the evidence of their effectiveness in reducing criminal behavior, and identifies neglected issues. Section III considers other manifestations of specialty courts and the emerging research evaluating the effectiveness of these courts. Section IV probes the policy implications of specialty court research and what this body of research suggests about the long-term viability of the specialty court movement.
David S. Tanenhaus
This article traces the ideological origins and legal foundations of the juvenile court. It examines juvenile courts at work in the early twentieth century, their guiding principles, and the later development of federal juvenile justice in the 1930s. It also assesses the U.S. Supreme Court's due process revolution that introduced more procedural requirements as well as lawyers into juvenile court during the 1960s, but simultaneously undercut one of the rationales (i.e., “the rehabilitative ideal”) for having a separate justice system for juveniles. It further focuses on the “get tough” era of the 1980s and 1990s, a time when most states made it easier to prosecute adolescents in the criminal justice system. Finally, it gives a brief discussion of future of the juvenile court. Despite jurisdictional changes, procedural reforms, and the erosion of the rehabilitative ideal, the juvenile court remains a flawed but resilient fixture in modern American governance.
LaTosha Traylor and Beth Richie
This article focuses on the steadily increasing number of females being admitted in corrections. It emphasizes the need for gender-based programs inside and outside prisons, and observes that drug offenses seem to be the main reason for the increase of female inmates. Most of these women have experienced physical—and even sexual—abuse, which makes treatment even more challenging. This article identifies some new programs that can address the needs of female inmates, particularly mothers and their children.
Daniel P. Mears
This article is focused on front-end processing in the juvenile court. The front end of juvenile justice refers to initial court decisions about how to process cases. The article discusses how the traditional mission of the juvenile court, which emphasizes punishment, treatment and services, and individualized attention, contributes to the goals and structure of front-end decision-making. Following this, it reveals two critical front-end activities: screening and assessment and informal and formal processing encompassing the roles of intake officers and prosecutors in these activities and how they comport with the juvenile court's traditional mission. Furthermore, it explores the stakes involved in front-end decision-making, including the potential impacts on how cases are processed and describes the implications of front-end processing for policy and practice. It concludes with a call for better monitoring of and research on front-end juvenile court processing and its impacts on recidivism, juvenile crime rates, and other outcomes.