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Overcriminalization/Excessive Punishment

The Liman Program has published Uncoupling Pipelines to Prison, a report from a workshop co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  In December 2011, a group of approximately forty officials, scholars, and practitioners gathered to discuss the phenomenon commonly referred to as “mass incarceration.”    The conversation focused on three areas, all of which are fueling rising prison populations:  (1) over-criminalization through the erosion of intentionality; (2) criminalizing adolescent misbehavior in schools and on the streets; and (3) excessive punishment and control of those convicted of criminal behavior.  Participants represented an array of views and included officials from the three branches of state and federal government, criminologists, legal scholars, practitioners, and experts in education, public policy, sociology, and comparative law.  Discussions occurred over the course of a day and a half, and materials circulated beforehand enabled participants to develop a shared literature in advance of the sessions.    The report provides several essays by the organizers and a summary of the discussion, including key points of consensus and divergence.