Sunday, July 07, 2019

For the summer #cjreform reading pile

Grits will head on holiday soon, and while I'm hoping to spend time engrossed in fiction, I usually end up reading a few academic articles on justice topics for which my day-to-day work hasn't afforded time. To that end, here are a few items I'm flagging to read later:
  • The Rational Villain Myth: This article addresses a hobbyhorse I've been riding most of my adult life. Economists think they know a lot about crime. In my experience, such certainty is based on the same delusions that the rise of behavioral economics (for which Richard Thaler won a Nobel Prize) intended to correct. Thalerites aside, MANY traditional economists cling to this "rational villain" theory. Economists generally tell us that punishment is the "price" of crime and if you want less crime, one need only raise the price. However, crime is a more complicated social problem than that, and in situations involving addiction, family violence, mental-health problems, extreme poverty, or an array of other variables, that simplistic approach harms people and creates blinders that cause policymakers to bypass better solutions. I'm looking forward to digging into this one.
  • The Policing of Prosecutors: This article seeks to apply lessons from regulating discretion in administrative law to the prosecutor's function, and it's an interesting approach. Parole decisions would benefit from similar tools.
  • The Founders Forfeiture: Asset forfeiture in early America included constraints and recourse for property owners that don't apply to modern forfeiture cases.
  • Beyond the Algorithm: The Center for Court Innovation examined issues of pretrial reform, risk assessments, and racial fairness.