This first chapter from the recently published book Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States documents the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment — desert, deterrence, incapacitation of the dangerous — that are officially recognized by law in each of the American states. The chapter contains two maps visually coded to display important differences: the first map shows which states have adopted desert, deterrence, or incapacitation as a distributive principle, while the second map shows which form of desert is adopted in those jurisdictions that recognize desert. Like all 38 chapters in the book, which covers a wide range of criminal issues, this first chapter also provides a commentary that puts the chapter topic in context.
Also included is the frontmatter for the full volume. What the project makes clear is that for most issues it is impossible to speak of an “American rule.” There are 52 American criminal codes, each of which is significantly different in some important respects from every other. After even a brief review of the text, it becomes clear that making claims about what American criminal law does or does not do, without qualification, is likely to be misleading. American criminal law scholars ought to be humble about their mastery of their subject and qualified in the claims they make about it.
Robinson, Paul H. and Williams, Tyler Scot, "MAPPING AMERICAN CRIMINAL LAW: VARIATIONS ACROSS THE 50 STATES: Chapter One: Distributive Principles of Criminal Law" (2018). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 2002.
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