2019 Res Philosophica Essay Prize

Mass Incarceration and Racial Justice

Abstract (Show/Hide)
Public officials should compensate the victims of wrongful conviction and enforcement. The same considerations in favor of compensating people for wrongful conviction and enforcement in other cases support officials' payment of reparations to the victims of unjust enforcement practices related to the drug war. First, we defend the claim that people who are convicted and incarcerated because of an unjust law are wrongfully convicted. Although their convictions do not currently qualify as wrongful convictions in the legal sense, we argue that the same reasons for legally recognizing other wrongful convictions support conceiving of these cases as wrongful convictions. If so, then
people who suffered wrongful convictions associated with unjust laws, like others who were wrongfully convicted, are entitled to compensation and reparation. We then argue that America's drug laws are unjust laws. Therefore, people who were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are entitled to compensation.
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Jessica Flanigan is the Richard L. Morrill Chair in Ethics and Democratic Values and an associate professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) at the University of Richmond. Her research addresses topics in bioethics and political philosophy, with a particular focus on public health ethics, economic justice, and the enforceability of rights. She is the author of Pharmaceutical Freedom (OUP 2017) and the co-author of Debating Sex Work (OUP 2019).

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Christopher Freiman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at William & Mary. His research interests include immigration, distributive justice, and democratic theory. His work has appeared in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy.
Original Call For Papers (Show/Hide)
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