Current Issue: Volume 27, Issue 2


Volume 27.2 (2022)


Africana Legal Studies: A New Theoretical Approach to Law & Protocol

Article by Angi Porter

“African people have produced the same general types of institutions for understanding and ordering their worlds as every other group of human beings. Though this should be obvious, the fact that we must go to great lengths to recognize and then demonstrate it speaks to the potent and invisible effect of the enslavement and colonization of African people over the last 500 years.” – Greg Carr

◊ ◊ ◊


Carceral Intent

Article by Danielle C. Jefferis

For decades, scholars across disciplines have examined the stark injustice of American carceralism. Among that body of work are analyses of the various intent requirements embedded in the constitutional doctrine that governs the state’s power to incarcerate. These intent requirements include the “deliberate indifference” standard of the Eighth Amendment, which regulates prison conditions, and the “punitive intent” standard of due process jurisprudence, which regulates the scope of confinement.

This Article coins the term “carceral intent” to refer collectively to those legal intent requirements and examines critically the role of carceral intent in shaping and maintaining the deep-rooted structural racism and sweeping harms of America’s system of confinement. This Article begins by tracing the origins of American carceralism, focusing on the modern prison’s relationship to white supremacy and the post-Emancipation period in U.S. history. The Article then turns to the constitutional doctrine of incarceration, synthesizing and categorizing the law of carceral intent. Then, drawing upon critical race scholarship that examines anti-discrimination doctrine and the concept of “white innocence,” the Article compares the law’s reliance on carceral intent with the law’s reliance on discriminatory intent in equal protection jurisprudence. Critical race theorists have long critiqued the intent-focused antidiscrimination doctrine as incapable of remedying structural racism and inequities. The same can be said of the doctrine of incarceration. The law’s preoccupation with an alleged wrongdoer’s “bad intent” in challenges to the scope and conditions of incarceration makes it ill-suited to remedying the U.S. prison system’s profoundly unjust and harmful features. A curative approach, this Article asserts, is one in which the law focuses on carceral effect rather than carceral intent, as others have argued in the context of equal protection. While such an approach will not remedy the full scope of harms of U.S. incarceration, it would be a start.

◊ ◊ ◊



Keeping Counsel: Challenging Immigration Detention Transfers as a Violation of the Right to Retained Counsel

Note by Natasha Phillips

In 2019 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) incarcerated nearly 500,000 individuals. More than half of the individuals detained by ICE were transferred between detention facilities, and roughly thirty percent of those transferred were moved between federal circuit court jurisdictions. Detention transfers are isolating, bewildering, and scary for the detained noncitizen and their family. They can devastate the noncitizen’s legal defense by destroying an existing attorney-client relationship or the noncitizen’s ability to obtain representation. Transfers also obstruct the noncitizen’s ability to gather evidence and may prejudicially change governing case law. This Note describes the legal framework for transfers and their legal and non-legal impacts. It contends that transfers violate noncitizens’ constitutional and statutory rights to retained counsel by obstructing the attorney-client relationship. Further, it argues that federal courts have jurisdiction to review right to counsel challenges to transfers under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Written with practitioners in mind, this Note canvasses the practical and legal difficulties of making such a challenge.

◊ ◊ ◊


Abusing Discretion: The Battle for Childhood in Schools

Note by Hannah Dodson 

For too many children the schoolhouse doors become a point of entry into the criminal justice system. Children of color are the most likely to suffer from this phenomenon. The presence of policing in schools is a key contributor to this “school-to-prison pipeline.” This Note argues that broad, discretionary mandates for school resource officers (SROs) promote biased law enforcement that impacts Black girls in different and specific ways. I contend that SRO mandates can be effectively limited by strategically bolstering community organizing efforts with impact litigation.

◊ ◊ ◊