Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law

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9780195328714: Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law

The United States today suffers from too much criminal law and too much punishment. Husak describes the phenomena in some detail and explores their relation, and why these trends produce massive injustice. His primary goal is to defend a set of constraints that limit the authority of states to enact and enforce penal offenses. The book urges the weight and relevance of this topic in the real world, and notes that most Anglo-American legal philosophers have neglected it. Husak's secondary goal is to situate this endeavor in criminal theory as traditionally construed. He argues that many of the resources to reduce the size and scope of the criminal law can be derived from within the criminal law itself-even though these resources have not been used explicitly for this purpose. Additional constraints emerge from a political view about the conditions under which important rights such as the right implicated by punishment-may be infringed. When conjoined, these constraints produce what Husak calls a minimalist theory of criminal liability. Husak applies these constraints to a handful of examples-most notably, to the justifiability of drug proscriptions.

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About the Author:


Douglas Husak is Professor of Philosophy and Law at Rutgers University.

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"This is a rich and thought-provoking account of a much undertheorized and yet hugely important issue...Husak's book signals a bold attempt to 'shake up' the discipline and to reignite our interest in the core issues of justice, wrong, blame, desert, and proportionality with which we should be concerned."--Vanessa E. Munro, New Criminal Law Review


"Trying to stem the tide of fatuous law that emanates from our incontinent legislatures, at least in the US and the UK, is a luckless and thankless task. I admire Husak enormously for his willingness to take the task on, and for the lively, sensible, and good-natured tone that he brings to it. I also admire his anti-authoritarian and anti-managerial moral instincts, sadly at odds with the spirit of the age. But most of all I admire Husak as a professional philosopher of law. His work is clear, thorough, patient, ingenious, insightful, informed, imaginative, and highly distinctive. Overcriminalization is no exception. Even those who are pessimistic about the possibility of deliberately effecting political change through academic work have a huge amount to learn from this wise, timely, and well-written book."--John Gardner, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


''Critically important and easily readable.Highly recommended."--CHOICE


"Douglas Husak embarks upon a provocative and urgent search for a theoretical framework that will enable legislators to identify which of the growing number of criminal law interventions in our daily lives are justified." --Vanessa E. Munro, University of Nottingham


"It is impossible in a review of this length to do justice to Husak's multilayered exploration of the phenomenon of modern overcriminalization and the theoretical frameworks that might be invoked to redress the injustice that it has generated. This is a rich and thought-provoking account of a much under theorized and yet hugely important issue."--Vanessa E. Munro, University of Nottingham


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2008. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In the US, one out of every 138 residents is incarcerated. The size of the prison population has quadrupled since 1980. Approximately 2.4 of Americans are either on probation and parole. The US has the highest rate of criminal punishment in the Western world. The problem with American criminal law, as the philosopher of law Douglas Husak and many others see it, is that there is simply too much of it. Recent years have seen a dramatic expansion in the amount of criminal statutes, and in the resulting reliance on punishment for convictions under those laws. Husak argues that this is regrettable for several reasons, but most importantly, he says that much of the resulting punishment is unjust, excessive, and disproportionate. He also claims that it is destructive to the rule of law and undermines the principle of legality. What should be done? Husak s goal in this book is to formulate a normative theory of criminalization that will allow us to distinguish which criminal laws are justified, and which are not-something he sees as essential in order to reverse the trend towards too many criminal laws. The first part of his book makes the case that there is both too much criminal law and too much punishment, and clarifies the relationship between the two using empirical data. He then provides examples of dubious criminal laws enacted by legislatures, in particular statutes on drugs possession and guns. The latter part of the book develops his theory, which establishes principles that should set limits (both external and internal to the criminal law) on what we can and should criminalize. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780195328714

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2008. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In the US, one out of every 138 residents is incarcerated. The size of the prison population has quadrupled since 1980. Approximately 2.4 of Americans are either on probation and parole. The US has the highest rate of criminal punishment in the Western world. The problem with American criminal law, as the philosopher of law Douglas Husak and many others see it, is that there is simply too much of it. Recent years have seen a dramatic expansion in the amount of criminal statutes, and in the resulting reliance on punishment for convictions under those laws. Husak argues that this is regrettable for several reasons, but most importantly, he says that much of the resulting punishment is unjust, excessive, and disproportionate. He also claims that it is destructive to the rule of law and undermines the principle of legality. What should be done? Husak s goal in this book is to formulate a normative theory of criminalization that will allow us to distinguish which criminal laws are justified, and which are not-something he sees as essential in order to reverse the trend towards too many criminal laws. The first part of his book makes the case that there is both too much criminal law and too much punishment, and clarifies the relationship between the two using empirical data. He then provides examples of dubious criminal laws enacted by legislatures, in particular statutes on drugs possession and guns. The latter part of the book develops his theory, which establishes principles that should set limits (both external and internal to the criminal law) on what we can and should criminalize. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780195328714

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