Public Justice vs. the Penal State

Albert W. Dzur

in Punishment, Participatory Democracy, and the Jury

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199874095
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980024 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Philosophy

Public Justice vs. the Penal State

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This book concludes by considering Socrates’ critique of the jury in the Apology, which misleadingly contrasts expert justice with democratic injustice. While producing an unjust outcome, Socrates’ trial was nevertheless thoroughly public because of the court’s lay membership: It addressed the people, was transparent, well understood, held the people accountable for justice, and influenced public discourse on punishment for centuries. Though a failure of justice, it was a public failure, a lesson for Athens and the wider world. The enduring need for public engagement in criminal justice explains why the jury form persists, why it is being reintroduced in Japan and elsewhere. The jury brings people together not as an assumed public, a voice of an already existing community, but as a deliberately constructed public; it provides a procedural rather than substantive foundation for the public interests represented in criminal adjudication. Contemporary proponents of Socrates’ expert justice, like Whitman, fail to see the threats this technocratic model poses to the civic capacity of a democracy. Reviving the jury in the fashion suggested in the previous chapter, or developing related institutional forms of load-bearing lay participation, would increase public sobriety about contemporary punishment and broaden responsibility for more humane criminal justice.

Keywords: criminal justice; democracy; experts; jury; lay participation; public engagement; punishment; Socrates; technocracy; Whitman

Chapter.  6551 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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