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The essay proceeds in three parts. Part one introduces several influential contemporary criminal law reformist approaches and argues that whatever their considerable promise, they are limited as alternatives to social order maintenance through conventional criminal law enforcement because of their fundamental attachment to the status quo in U.S. criminal law administration, with all of its associated violence. Part two begins to examine the contours and theoretical promise of “unfinished alternatives.” Part three introduces five specific examples of unfinished alternatives in the criminal law context. The “unfinished” quality of each of these five alternatives—their partial, aspirational, in-process character—is crucial to their potential to usher in new ways of thinking and speaking about criminal law, and perhaps ultimately a reformed social order that involves less violence than the status quo in criminally-oriented social order maintenance.

Publication Citation

8 Harvard Unbound 109-132 (2013)