Step one in transforming the criminal justice system: Articulating a new vision

By: Joseph Margulies,  Verdict
September 21, 2015

Joseph Margulies, professor of government and law, writes in this column in Verdict about the lack of alternatives to the criminal justice system in the U.S., which he says has gone "horribly awry."

"Everyone can point to a host of ways the current system has led us astray," he writes. "For some, the criminal justice system is too big and too expensive, and government has been given far too much power. For others, it is too cruel, and people are treated little better than animals. For still more, it is hopelessly biased against minorities and the poor, producing disparities that make the United States the shame of the Western world. Others have concluded it is given to hysteria and prone to error, which has helped create the largest prison population in the world.

"But what is the alternative organizing philosophy of the criminal justice system? We know we don’t want to be here, but no one seems to know where we should be instead. Some people—principally those who focus on mass incarceration rather than the pathologies of the entire carceral state—have suggested that prison populations should be cut by a more or less arbitrary amount." 

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