As predicted, the discussion at Empirical Legal Studies about the gap that needs to be filled between legal scholars and political scientists has been hale and hearty, insightful and even contagious (see here and here). So far my favorite quote has been the cite of Justice Frankfurter (can't help it, always smile when I say that) about what the relationship should be:
What we have a right to expect from economists and political scientists is an analysis of what the true governmental problems are, in the light of what actually goes on in the world and wholly apart from the technicalities of American constitutional law. Only after we have such an analysis is it the function of the American lawyer either to find within the existing body of law resources adequate to reconcile law with wisdom, or, if that reconciliation is impossible, to fashion new law.
I've made clear that I think much of the stalling out and plateauing of commissions and guidelines into something far less than Frankel envisioned is due greatly to poli sci's failure to engage with legal scholars in planning their future. There are policy frameworks and institutional analyses that could have foretold the problems and moved through them, but we in poli sci especially gave the field to criminologists, aided and abetted by sociologists and psychologists. I see this series at ELS as a good start toward pulling the poli sci guys into sentencing policy, although this particular effort focuses exclusively on study of courts and public law. The consensus right now seems to be that just having joint JD/PhD degrees or hiring a couple of poli sci types into law faculty won't be enough. The atmosphere and culture need to create and embrace a new perspective entirely that incorporates the insights of both. They're onto something. Let's keep reading and hope blossoms form. . . . Grits for Breakfast is busy being provocative again, citing an article declaring substance abuse a medical issue, not a criminal justice one, and getting provoked responses. (I don't really think I'd get in a p--sing match with Grits.) And then Grits follows with an interesting bit on the rise of ex-felons in the military. Pros/cons weighed but overall, not a bad idea, considering the findings of the life-course literature that military service was one of three consistent tipping points in turning delinquents' lives onto a straight path in the past. (The other two are employment and marriage, both of which could be taken up by gov policymakers if we wanted to get serious . . . guess I can get pretty provocative, too.)