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This brief essay summarizes the virtues of the modern American codification movement of the 1960s and 70s, putting it in a larger global context, then describes how these once-enviable codes have been systematically degraded with thoughtless amendments, a process of degradation that is accelerating each year. After exploring the political dynamics that promote such degradation, the essay suggests the principles and procedures for fixing the current codes and, more importantly, structural changes to the process that could avoid the restart of degradation in the future.


Criminal law, criminal code reform, proportional punishment, criminal law politics, legislation, limiting judicial discretion, penal law, punishment, sanctions, Model Penal Code, Kentucky criminal law, crime du jour, criminal code degradation, offense grading irrationalities

Publication Title

University of Louisville Law Review

Publication Citation

53 U. Louisville L. Rev. 173 (2015).