[RG # 146] The Legitimization of Modern Criminal Law
March 1 - July 31, 2016
Alon Harel (The Hebrew University)
It is often said that criminal law faces a crisis of legitimacy: a crisis of perceived legitimacy, in that many of those who are subject to it do not regard it as author- itative; a crisis of normative legitimacy, insofar as it cannot plausibly claim the authority that it needs.
This Research Group will pursue five lines of research aimed at understanding and finding ways of responding to it. First, we take seriously the fact that criminal law is a political institution, whose legitimation must be grounded in political theory. Second, we will explore the ways in which criminal law can be differentiated from other legal and extra-legal mechanisms for regulating behavior. Third, we will examine the scope of activities that can legitimately be criminalized, since a failure to honor appropriate limitations on that scope is another source of the crisis of legitimacy. Fourth, we will examine the procedural features that are necessary for strengthening the legitimacy of criminal law. Finally, we will attend to criminal punishment, in particular the question of what modes of criminal punishment can play a legitimate role in a democratic polity.