New Book: The Machinery of Criminal Justice

Penn Professor Stephen Bibas has published an interesting new book titled The Machinery of Justice.  Available for purchase here.  The abstract states:

Two centuries ago, the American criminal justice system 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.

2 responses to “New Book: The Machinery of Criminal Justice

  1. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    Thank you for the tip, Mark.
    Do you believe the book would be easy to understand by a public library patron ?

    It’s beyond my budget. ¦ – (

    I opine that Professor Bibas is correct .

    FWIW, David is my brother in the cited Federal habeas action against the late Judge Blair.
    The case ought never have gone beyond it’s 1972 trial level.

    BRADY v. BLAIR 427 F.Supp. 5 (1976)
    David Dean BRADY, Petitioner,
    Barton W. BLAIR, Jr., Respondent.
    No. C-2-75 410.
    United States District Court, S. D. Ohio, E. D.
    April 22, 1976.
    R. Raymond Twohig, Jr., Columbus, Ohio, for petitioner.

    Ray, as I recall, was Director of OSU’s Clinic at the time.
    Unfortunately for Ohio, but fortunately for New Mexico, he “ran off” to NM.

  2. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    ½Off topic and I’m not on its payroll, but for the lay folks interested in Wrongful Convictions, IMLO, Leagle, an excellent source to compliment the WC blog and its wealth of information; ☺plus it’s much less expensive than WestLaw®.

    Cases marked “Do Not Publish” or similarly, by the courts, indicate the decision is not to be used as legal precedent, however the decision is still available for public access.

    From About Us at
    About Leagle, Inc. and Our Content

    Leagle, Inc. is a leading provider of copies of primary caselaw from all Federal courts and all State higher courts. Our collection is up to date within 24 hours of release of opinions from the courts and is also complete historically for all time for Federal courts and back to 1950 for state appellate and supreme courts. We add Slip Opinions daily, and Advance Sheets and Bound Volume copies as they become available. Our materials are fully copyrighted by Leagle, Inc.

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