CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lynch on Quantification and Sentencing

Mona Lynch (University of California, Irvine - Department of Criminology, Law and Society) has posted The Narrative of the Number: Quantification in Criminal Court (Law and Social Inquiry, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Scholars have documented the explosion in quantification of social phenomena within organizational settings. A key site of the quantitative turn has been in the penal- legal field, with purported transformative effects. This article draws from a field research project examining the on-the-ground implementation of the federal sentencing guidelines to explore how the guidelines’ numbers-based logic is both articulated and reconstituted by legal actors in the adversarial process. Complementing macro-level work that examines the transformative effects of quantification at the social-structural level, I take a micro-level, empirically grounded approach that analytically focuses on day-to-day interactions in court to reveal quantification’s possibilities and limits. I identify three adversarial strategies that narrate the meaning of the guideline calculation to demonstrate how the complex quantitative guidelines system becomes incorporated into narrative form to know, assess, and judge legal subjects.

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