[PAST EVENT] Wythe Lecture: Tracey L. Meares, Yale Law School

February 23, 2012
3:30pm - 4:30pm
Law School, Room 127
613 S Henry St
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
There are two dominant ways to evaluate the police. The first is whether their conduct comports with the law. The second is whether they are effective crime fighters. The legal domain is the province of lawyers and law professors. Their briefs and scholarly writings depend usually upon interpretations of constitutional law and assessments of police conduct in reference to that law. Sometimes other bodies of law, such as police agency administrative regulations, civil lawsuits or the very law that authorizes police to act in the first place, substantive criminal law, are the subject, but the assumption no matter the body of law is that more legality is the ideal goal. Effectiveness at crime-fighting has become the other police evaluation metric. This arena is the province of social scientists -- criminologists and economists -- who attempt to find causal connections between various police practices and crime statistics. Their theoretical model assumes a rational actor who is persuaded to desist based on the influence of potential formal punishment.

This lecture will present a third view -- rightful policing. Rightful policing attempts to account for what people say that they care about when assessing police behavior specifically and police agencies in general. It is different from lawful policing and efficient policing in at least two ways.

First, rightful policing does not depend on the actual legality of police conduct. Instead, rightful policing depends primarily upon the procedural justice or fairness of police conduct. Second, rightful policing does not depend on an assessment of police as ever more effective crime fighters (although it turns out that rightful policing often leads to more compliance with the law and therefore lower crime rates). Additionally, and critically, this approach helps us move toward police governance that is substantially, as opposed to rhetorically, democratic.

Free and all are welcome.

(757) 221-1840, [[jpwelc]]