We Cannot Prosecute Our Way to Making Black Lives Matter

We Cannot Prosecute Our Way to Making Black Lives Matter

Cities across the country are in turmoil after the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. While the protests are motivated by and calling for a range of solutions to the ongoing problem of police brutality, the loudest call is for accountability in the form of criminal charges against the officers involved…

Don’t Reform Policing, Transform It

Don’t Reform Policing, Transform It

A version of this post appeared on the Boston Review’s website yesterday. There is a distressing disconnect between the ringing demands for justice on the streets and the suite of “police reform” proposals that many experts say satisfy these demands. Protesters and social movements talk about divesting from policing and investing in black communities. They talk about ensuring that “the most impacted in our communities…

The Many Forms of Police Violence

The Many Forms of Police Violence

Over the past week, there has been unprecedented acknowledgment of the physical violence that Black people in America have faced, for generations, at the hands of police. While this is an important development, the work to eradicate police violence will not be complete if the public remains concerned only with the most visually and viscerally…

Gideon and the Promise of Right to Counsel

Gideon and the Promise of Right to Counsel

This week, we’re sharing two discussions on John Whitlow’s recently published article reflecting on New York’s right to counsel in evictions proceedings. Our contributors share visions of right to counsel that move beyond due process rights. The contributors show that right to counsel campaigns are part of broader movements that seek to address the material deprivation underlying the…

After Money Bail: Lifting the Veil on Pretrial Detention

After Money Bail: Lifting the Veil on Pretrial Detention

Click here to read all posts in our Money Bail series, including the introductory post presenting an LPE perspective on pretrial detention. Ending money bail will not itself produce an effective and just pretrial system. The wonderful prior posts in this series have explored several reasons why this is so. I would like to add one more: Ending…

Reading Bail Reform Through a Critical Race Lens

Reading Bail Reform Through a Critical Race Lens

Click here to read all posts in our Money Bail series, including the introductory post presenting an LPE perspective on pretrial detention. Recent years have seen an explosion in calls to reform bail laws across the country. California and New York, among other states, witnessed the launch of grassroots campaigns made up of, and led by,…

Teaching Penal Abolition

Teaching Penal Abolition

In April, the New York Times ran a profile on abolitionist visionary and scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and the Harvard Law Review published an entire issue on prison abolition. This fall, the University of Texas Law School Human Rights Center is hosting a conference on abolition. The new journalistic outlet The Appeal runs abolitionist pieces…

Restorative Justice and Moral Neoliberalism

Restorative Justice and Moral Neoliberalism

Today, groups of left organizers who wish to abolish the current penal system are practicing community mediation. They facilitate dialogic processes where people who have caused harm engage in active listening, relationship-building, and intensive forms of emotional, spiritual, and material reparations. These processes, variously called restorative justice or more often transformative justice and community-based accountability,…

Who are “the People” in Criminal Procedure?

Who are “the People” in Criminal Procedure?

The customary case caption in criminal court, “The People v. Defendant,” pits the community against one lone person in an act of collective condemnation. When I was a public defender in New York City, it was common for judges, clerks, and other courtroom players to refer to individual Assistant District Attorneys as “the People,” as…

Rethinking Criminal Law

Rethinking Criminal Law

Energized and challenged by the rise of powerful grassroots movements in the wake of the Ferguson and Baltimore rebellions, law professors are rethinking how to teach first-year Criminal Law. At the Law and Society Association annual meeting this summer, Alice Ristroph convened a group to ask “Are we teaching what we should be teaching? .…

Teaching Criminal Law from an LPE Perspective

Teaching Criminal Law from an LPE Perspective

In the introduction to Chapter 1 of the casebook that Cynthia Lee and I edit, we tell students that the first-year course on criminal law answers the question, “What, in our society, makes a crime, and why?” We suggest that the answer involves “culture,” and that we therefore intend to approach criminal law as a…