Academic journal article Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

Criminal Law and Criminology: A Survey of Recent Books

Academic journal article Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

Criminal Law and Criminology: A Survey of Recent Books

Article excerpt

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT--UNITED STATES

AMERICA'S EXPERIMENT WITH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE ULTIMATE PENAL SANCTION (James R. Acker, Robert M. Bohm & Charles S. Lanier, eds.) (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1998) 586 pp.

A collection of twenty-one essays dealing with various aspects of the re-establishment of the death penalty in the twenty-five years since Furman v. Georgia (1972). Among the general topics considered are the death penalty legislation that followed Furman, the effects of public opinion, questions about the deterrence value of capital punishment, legal issues arising in death penalty litigation, and the impact of the actual methods of execution.

CRIMINAL LAW--METHODOLOGY

PAUL H. ROBINSON, STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION IN CRIMINAL LAW (NY: Oxford University Press, 1997) 251 pp.

The book presents a comprehensive conceptual framework about criminal law doctrine. The book has two themes. First is that the way we conceptualize criminal law is of more than theoretical interest: the rules and doctrines of criminal law and their interrelation affect events in the real world. The second is that criminal law can be structured in any number of ways. The themes and discussion of this book are the result of fifteen years of theorizing about criminal law doctrine. In the introductory chapter, the author discusses current American criminal law in terms of its formal structure, its operational structure, and its functional structure. The formal structure is based on the familiar distinctions between offenses and defenses and between mens rea and actus reus. The operational structure represents the way the law actually operates. In the second and third parts of the book, the author critiques the formal and operational structures of American criminal law, and moves beyond critique by arguing for an analysis and reorganization of criminal law doctrine in terms of the primary functions which criminal law serves--rule articulation, liability assignment, and grading of offenses. In the concluding portions of the book the author advocates for, and discusses strategies for, the development of separate codes: a code of conduct, for members of the public; and, a code of adjudication, for lawyers, judges, and juries. The appendices provide draft codes prepared on the basis the strategies set forth in the book.

EVIDENCE, CRIMINAL

PETER B. AINSWORTH, PSYCHOLOGY, LAW AND EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY (NY: John Wiley and Sons, 1998) 194 pp.

Recent psychological research into perception and memory indicate that several factors may distort the recall of the honest witness, suggesting that juries may rely excessively on eyewitness testimony and that the criminal justice system as a whole may make inappropriate assumptions about the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. The author discusses psychological research topics such as the subjectivity of perception, factors which may influence how an event is remembered, how subsequent information or misinformation may alter the memory of the earlier event, and the special problems of facial memory and recall. Cases of witness misidentification are presented, along with a review of a number of identification techniques and suggestions for improvements in identification procedures. …

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