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29 Crim. Just. Pol'y Rev. 3 (2018)

handle is hein.journals/cjpr29 and id is 1 raw text is: 


                                                            Criminal justice Policy Review
                                                                  2018, Vol. 29(1) 3-23
Analysis of Powder Keg                                          @ The Author(s) 2015
                                                               Reprints and permissions:
Theory         in  State      Escape                   sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
                                                          DOl: 10.1177/0887403415619006
Statutes                                                    journals.sagepub.com/home/cjp

Mijin  Kim' and Jeff Mellow'

Escape research has debunked  the powder  keg theory that all escapes are inherently
violent and may explode into violence at any given time. The vast majority of escapes
takes place from minimum  secure facilities and do not involve force at time of escape
or recapture. Nevertheless, federal defendants often receive unduly harsh sentences
based  on prior  escape convictions because  courts assume  that the majority  of
escapes are violent for purposes of sentencing enhancement. This study analyzed all
50 U.S. state escape statutes to determine which states classify escapes in a manner
consistent with the powder  keg theory. Results indicated that the majority of state
statutes neither concurred with the powder keg theory nor favored a more nuanced
understanding  of the relationship between escapes and  potential violence. Policy
implications of these findings and potential pathways for future escape research are
discussed. This article concludes that criminal acts of escape must be reconsidered
for sentencing purposes in relation to their potential violence, risks, and intentions.

escapes, powder  keg theory, ACCA,  state escape statutes

In 1984, Congress enacted the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA),  which requires a
minimum   15-year sentence for individuals with three prior violent felony convictions
who  are subsequently convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. Federal courts
often judge custodial escapes as categorically violent under the ACCA despite the lack
of reliable evidence to substantiate this judgment. Misconceptions about the degree of
violence in custodial escapes are largely due to popular culture and fear-based news

'John Jay College of Criminal justice, City University of New York, New York City, NY, USA
Corresponding Author:
Mijin Kim, John Jay College of Criminal justice, City University of New York, 524 West 59th Street, New
York, NY 10019, USA.
Email: mjkim310@gmail.com

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