Volume 3, Issue 2

Date of Publication: Summer 2015

Meghan J. Ryan, Science and the New Rehabilitation

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Abstract: Rehabilitation is making a comeback. Long thought to be an outdated approach to punishment, rehabilitation is reemerging in the wake of scientific advances. Not only have these advances in the fields of pharmacology, genetics, and neuroscience brought new rehabilitative possibilities, but the media’s communication of these advances to the general public has also set the stage for rehabilitation’s reprise. The media constantly pummels the general public with reports of scientific breakthroughs like functional magnetic resonance imaging, thereby conditioning the public to be more accepting of deterministic viewpoints and, paradoxically, also to be more open to the possibility of transforming individuals. This pairing of new science with its broadcast to the public has set the stage for the reemergence of rehabilitation. The rehabilitation that is emerging, however, differs in kind from the rehabilitation that reigned during the previous era. Instead of being aimed at transforming an individual’s character, this “New Rehabilitation” focuses instead on changing the offender’s behavior. This intense focus on treating offender behavior parallels the increased medicalization of ordinary Americans and thus may make therapeutic biochemical transformations of offenders more societally palatable. Additionally, this new approach has the potential to be faster, more targeted, and more effective than earlier approaches to rehabilitation. Adoption of this New Rehabilitation, though, may discard the humanity of offenders, ignoring the dignity to which they are constitutionally entitled. It also poses new questions of coercion. Most concerning, this emerging rehabilitation is masked as an improved version of the rehabilitation that was broadly accepted just half a century ago. Such presentation of the New Rehabilitation as an improvement over the old, without any new problems, runs the risk of lulling us into uncritically accepting this modern approach. In reality, this New Rehabilitation is a different, and in some ways more sinister, breed of the penological theory.


Michael J. Frank & G. Zachary Terwilliger, Gang-Controlled Sex Trafficking 

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Abstract: Looking for new sources of revenue, gangs have turned to sex trafficking to fill their coffers with illicit profits. Their penchant for violence and experience with other unlawful activities make gang involvement in sex trafficking a dangerous combination. This Article discusses the mechanisms by which gangs traffic victims, including: the means by which gangs recruit and maintain victims; the tools they use to market victims to customers; and the methods they employ to prevent victims from escaping their clutches. The Article provides examples of these activities from sex trafficking cases prosecuted in federal courts throughout the United States. It also discusses the attributes of gangs that make them formidable sex traffickers, including their structure, discipline, and reputation for violence. The Article concludes by arguing that, absent aggressive intervention, gangs are likely to expand their domain in the world of sex trafficking.


Rebecca Foxwell, Risk Assessments and Gender for Smarter Sentencing

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Abstract: This Note addresses the current state of sentencing in the United States and argues that using risk assessments based at least in part on actuarial data is both reasonable and necessary. Risk assessments have long been used in parole and probation decisions, which aim to let out of prison people who are at a low risk of committing future crimes, while keeping in prison those people who are most likely to recidivate. This Note also argues that crime prevention should be the primary goal of sentencing and that efficiency gains can be made by considering the risk of recidivism at the start, before sentencing someone to prison or deciding how long the person’s sentence should be. More specifically, this Note summarizes some of the current data and theories on gender as a major correlate of crime. The data on gender and crime is some of the strongest and most well understood in the field of criminology and should, therefore, be included in these risk assessment tools. Furthermore, based on the strength of the data, gender survives intermediate constitutional scrutiny. It also avoids some of the most contentious issues of risk assessment, including concerns that certain risk factors implicate race, either directly or through disparate impact. Hence, gender is a good venue through which to focus the discussion on risk assessment more generally in order to address legitimate concerns about constitutionality, culpability, and justice and thus allow for the development of evidence-based tools that are legally and morally acceptable.


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