What the Law Intends Versus What the Law Delivers

Barbara A. Spellman

Past APS Board Member Barbara A. Spellman of the University of Virginia serves as a discussant during the symposium, “Distributing Justice: What the Law Intends Versus What the Law Delivers.” Chaired by Elizabeth Gilbert, also of the University of Virginia, the symposium focused on how the legal system distributes punishment.

Speaker Paul Robinson of the University of Pennsylvania discussed research on the influence of punishments that “fit the crime” compared with punishments designed to deter crime. Kenworthey Bilz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reported that victims tend to express greater anger toward low-status as opposed to high-status offenders, and Victoria Plaut, University of California, Berkeley, discussed the influence of terminology used to talk about undocumented immigrants. Robin Steinberg, founder of The Bronx Defenders, explained that just being accused of a crime, even without being convicted, can take a toll on individuals in the form of lost child custody, employment, or public benefits.

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