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2010: Crime & Punishment

Professor Will Cook and The Honorable William Wilkins

Law & Society Series

Crime and Punishment

2nd Annual Law & Society Symposium

Charleston Music Hall and Charleston Museum
February 18 - 19, 2010

The Riley Institute and the Charleston School of Law co-hosted the second annual Law and Society Series symposium February 18-19 that focused on the topic of crime and punishment. For the complete program, click here

By bringing together different legal constituencies, the “Crime and Punishment” symposium explored the range and functions of criminal punishment, evaluated whether existing law meets identified objectives, revisited the definition of cruel and unusual punishment, analyzed the effect of the financial crisis on white collar crime, and examined the troubled relationship between schools and prison. In addition to identifying problems in the crime and punishment system, speakers offered constructive solutions.

The program began Thursday, February 18 at 5 p.m. in the Charleston Music Hall with a keynote address by Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative based in Montgomery, Alabama. The title of Mr. Stevenson’s address was “The Politics of Crime and Punishment: Condemnation, Mercy, and Justice.” Mr. Stevenson is also a professor at NYU Law School and argued recently before the Supreme Court of the United States.

The symposium continued on Friday, February 19 from 8:30 to 5 p.m. with a series of panel discussions by scholars, judges, lawmakers, lawyers, and public advocates. The second day’s activities took place at the Charleston Museum.

"The crime and punishment symposium surveyed the functions of criminal punishment in law and society, determined shortcomings, and offered a look at suggested reforms,” explained Will Cook, assistant professor at the Charleston School of Law. “These issues are relevant to everyone, including lawyers in every discipline. When laws that criminalize and punish conduct create unintended consequences, social cost is high.”

According to Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute at Furman, the symposium could not come at a more appropriate time. “Our state and others are confronted by a series of extremely important issues,” he said. “The conference represents an opportunity for a common sense discussion about why we criminalize and punish, and whether the systems our governments have created are accomplishing these goals.”

This event was well attended and received numerous positive comments. According to one attorney who attended both the keynote address and the panels commented that, "I have never gotten more from an event or been more fascinated by the speakers and panelists than over the last two days".

The Law and Society Series is a joint effort between the Riley Institute at Furman and the Charleston Law Review.  

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