CrimProf Blog

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

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Robert McClendon Says Hello to Freedom

Dna_free_man Shortly after sunrise, the inmates in the stark prison yard cheered wildly and pumped their fists for Robert McClendon as he took his final steps toward freedom.

The Columbus man grinned as he walked past the concrete-block walls and curls of barbed wire, no longer condemned for a child rape that DNA shows he didn't commit.

Still, there would be a full day of paperwork and technicalities before the 52-year-old was released from handcuffs and leg shackles.

Grandchildren and a throng of family members and supporters nearly tackled him when he finally appeared -- a free man after 18 years -- in a back entrance of the Downtown county jail at 5 p.m.

"I'm just glad to be here with my family, who's supported me all these years," McClendon said. Of the time lost, he added: "You can't make it up. All you can do is move forward."

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Cross Dressing and the Criminal

Drawing upon cultural studies, literary theory, and criminal law, Cross Dressing and the Criminal argues that cross dressing as a metaphor, as a sign, as a practice has the potential to subvert not only expectations about gender, but also about race, sexuality, class, and status. Taking up Judith Butler's suggestion that we could all benefit from serious play, and turning to the criminal arena, this essay conceptualizes a justice system in which officers, prosecutors, jurors, and judges engage in imaginative acts of cross dressing in cases where implicit biases may be present. Such imaginative acts, the essay argues, would not only have the salutary effect of foregrounding such biases. It would also allow decision-makers to override them. [Mark Godsey]

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Crime, Legitimacy, and Testilying

Crime, Legitimacy, and Testilying draws upon Tom Tyler's highly influential legitimacy theory (that perceptions of legitimacy play a crucial role in inducing voluntary compliance with the law) to make the novel but utilitarian argument that more policing of the police - by holding officers accountable for sanctionable and criminal conduct - is likely to have the counter-intuitive effect of reducing crime in the general population. The Article makes this argument by following Mari Matsuda's suggestion and looking to the bottom, i.e., adopting the perspective of those in minority and poor communities. From this (disad)vantage point, police actions that are normally associated with over-enforcement, such as racial profiling and the use of excessive force, also signal a type of under-enforcement. Except in the most egregious cases, law enforcement officers can engage in otherwise sanctionable conduct usually without fear of consequences; in short, officers themselves often operate in and benefit from a zone of under-enforcement. This in turn undermines police legitimacy and induces non-compliance with the law.

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