Responsibility for the Criminal Law
This chapter argues that criminal law theory has been too narrowly focused on the responsibility of the offender for his criminal acts, and seeks to show how other key players in the system — including legislatures, police, prosecutors, and courts — share responsibility for the system of criminal law and how it chooses to treat its subjects. The chapter is organized as follows. First, it identifies some of the distinctive inquiries and methods of a political theory of criminal law. It then turns to the concept of responsibility and offers a revisionist, or perhaps rehabilitated, account of criminal responsibility. On this account, the accused individual does not stand isolated as the responsible agent; instead, criminal responsibility is also a matter of the public and collective agency exercised throughout the processes of criminalization, prosecution, adjudication, and punishment. The concluding section connects the examination of responsibility for the criminal law to questions about responsibility for other forms of bureaucratic violence.
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