48 Fla. L. Rev. 539 (1996)
The Poignant Paradoxes of Criminal Justice: A Review

handle is hein.journals/uflr48 and id is 547 raw text is: THE POIGNANT PARADOXES OF CRIMINAL
Francis A. Allen*
Martha Grace Duncan. New York: New York University
Press, 1996. Pp. xi, 272.
It was Albert Einstein, I believe, who said that things should be as
simple as possible, but that they should not be more simple than
possible. The writer of this important and arresting book, Martha Grace
Duncan, is not likely to be accused of oversimplification. One of the
many messages her work communicates is that in the quest for penal
justice things are often not what they seem, and, quite literally, we often
do not know what we are doing.
Professor Duncan's engagement with paradox, contradiction, and
nuance is in stark contrast to the brutally simplistic approaches that have
dominated American penal policy since the late 1960s-policies that
overwhelmingly emphasize suppression, incapacitation, and draconian
penalties. The principle that criminal punishments, insofar as possible,
should be proportioned to offenders' culpabilities often has been flouted
even though this principle has been a fundamental objective of penal
policy in liberal societies since the eighteenth century Enlightenment. In
consequence, America increasingly displays the attributes of a prison
society. Today, over one million and a half persons are confined in our
prisons and jails.' The total number of persons in prison custody more
than doubled in the decade between 1982-1992.2 The rate of persons
imprisoned per unit of population in the United States is over four times
greater than in England and Wales, the latter rates being among the
highest in Europe? The prison systems of California and New York
each hold more inmates in confinement than does that of any nation of
Western Europe.4 The number of persons under some form of penal
restraint is greater than the total population of any one of twenty-nine
* Huber C. Hurst Eminent Scholar and Professor of Law emeritus, University of Florida;
and Eson R. Sunderland Professor of Law emeritus, University of Michigan.
LAW 29-30 (1996).
2. Id. at 35.
3. Id. at 30.
4. Id.

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