The Machinery of Criminal Justice

The Machinery of Criminal Justice

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Two centuries ago, the American criminal justice was run primarily by laymen. Jury trials passed moral judgment on crimes, vindicated victims and innocent defendants, and denounced the guilty. But over the last two centuries, lawyers have taken over the process, silencing victims and defendants and, in many cases, substituting a plea-bargaining system for the voice of the jury. The public sees little of how this assembly-line justice works, and victims and defendants have largely lost their day in court. As a result, victims rarely hear defendants express remorse and apologize, and defendants rarely receive forgiveness. This lawyerized machinery has purchased efficient, speedy processing of many cases at the price of sacrificing softer values, such as reforming defendants and healing wounded victims and relationships. In other words, the U.S. legal system has bought quantity at the price of quality, without recognizing either the trade-off or the great gulf separating lawyers' and laymen's incentives, interests, values, and powers.
In The Machinery of Criminal Justice, author Stephanos Bibas surveys these developments over the last two centuries, considers what we have lost in our quest for efficient punishment, and suggests ways to include victims, defendants, and the public once again. These ideas range from requiring convicts to work or serve in the military, to moving power from prosecutors to restorative sentencing juries. Bibas argues that doing so might cost more, but it would better serve criminal procedure's interests in denouncing crime, vindicating victims, reforming wrongdoers, and healing the relationships torn by crime.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 20.32mm | 544.31g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0195374681
  • 9780195374681

Table of contents

Author Biography ; Acknowledgements ; Introduction: The Divergence of Theory, Reality, and Morality ; Overview of the Book ; Themes of the Book ; Chapter I: The Long Drift from Morality Play to Assembly Line ; A. Criminal Justice in the Early American Colonies ; 1. Small-Town Morality ; 2. Lay Justice ; 3. Room for Mercy ; 4. Reintegrative Punishment ; B. Criminal Justice Since the American Revolution ; 1. The Changing Aims of Criminal Justice ; 2. Professionalization ; 3. The Birth of Plea Bargaining ; 4. The Hiding of Punishment Behind Prison Walls ; 5. The Decline of Mercy ; Chapter II: Opaque, Unresponsive Criminal Justice ; A. The Players ; 1. Dominant Insiders, Savvy and Self-Interested ; 2. Excluded Outsiders, Yearning for Justice ; B. The Play of the Game ; 1. Round One: Insiders' Procedural Discretion Shapes the Rules in Action ; 2. Round Two: Outsiders Try to Check Insiders ; 3. Round Three: Insiders' Procedural Discretion Undercuts Reforms ; 4. Round Four: Outsiders, Egged on by Politicians, Take Matters into Their Own Hands ; 5. Round Five: Insiders Circumvent Even
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Review quote

It is rare to see, especially from the right, a critique of the modern American criminal justice system that focuses not just on specific concerns, but on the foundation of the system itself...It is therefore noteworthy when a conservative voice, inspired by conservative principles, comprehensively analyzes the root problems of our criminal justice system. ...Bibas brings to bear a distinctly premodern perspective, which he has distilled in The Machinery of
Criminal Justice. Published two years before his appointment to the federal appeals court, the book deploys social-scientific, historical, and personal insight to ask and answer a question: why and how have the beneficiaries of justice -the community- been shut out of the process of justice? * Charles Fain Lehman, The University Bookman *
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About Stephanos Bibas

Stephanos Bibas is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he specializes in criminal procedure. As director of Penn's Supreme Court Clinic, he also litigates a wide array of cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. After graduating from Yale Law School and clerking at the Supreme Court, he worked as a federal prosecutor in New York City, where he prosecuted a wide array of criminal cases. He successfully
investigated, prosecuted, and convicted the world's leading expert in Tiffany stained glass for hiring a grave robber to loot priceless Tiffany windows from tombs in cemeteries, winning an FBI award for outstanding performance. He has published widely on plea bargaining, sentencing, and how criminal procedure could better
serve the substantive moral goals of the criminal law.
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