CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Levin on Conspiracy Law and Market Control

Benjamin Levin has posted American Gangsters: RICO, Criminal Syndicates, and Conspiracy Law as Market Control (Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In an effort to re-examine legal and political decisions about criminalization and the role of the criminal law in shaping American markets and social institutions, this Article explores the ways in which criminal conspiracy laws in the United States have been used to quash informal markets and subdue non-state actors that have threatened the hegemony of the state-supporting and state-derived formal market actors.

The Article focuses primarily on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as illustrative of broader trends in twentieth century criminal policy. Enacted in 1970, RICO provides broad criminal sanctions for individuals engaged in unacceptable organized activities. The statute has been used to prosecute Wall Street power players, labor leaders, activists, and others whose concerted actions violated the codes of the marketplace. I depart from traditional RICO scholarship by re-situating the passage of RICO and subsequent RICO prosecutions in a broader cultural and historical context. In doing so, I insert the political economy of conspiracy into the equation by suggesting that RICO has created powerful socio-legal axes between lawful collectives and outlaws that map societal actors according to their adherence to a set of market-based norms.

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