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Ball/Oberman Current Challenges in Criminal Law

Mass incarceration: How did we get here? How is it serving us?

We begin our study of criminal law by considering conventional theories of punishment. The aim of this week's supplemental discussion is to give you a reality-check--an opportunity to test your sensibilities about how, when and why you might justify punishment by examining the functioning of the U.S. prison system. We suggest that, in reflecting on the various interviews below, you ask yourself the following questions: 

1. What is your “favorite” theory of punishment (retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, etc). Which one do you find most persuasive when thinking about why we punish those who break laws?

2. How, if at all, did the interview(s) you read or listened to challenge that justification for punishment?

3. What did you learn that changed your way of thinking about these issues?

4. If you could ask the interviewee one question, what would it be?