Research / Themes / Trends in governance / Personal liberty versus public safety

This work focuses on criminal courts, most often dealing with the problems of balancing a citizen’s right to pretrial liberty with public safety. This has dealt with question of prediction (who poses the threats to public safety) and that of how threats to public safety should be dealt. These questions arise at various stages of criminal processing (including pretrial release and confinement), whereby the presumption that defendants should be placed in the community must be weighed against imperatives for community protection. Addressing this challenge has involved questioning the role and impact of confinement at early and later stages of justice processing. Alternatives to adjudication, drug courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts, drug treatment as well as greater and more informed use of non-carcerative methods in the courts have all involved questions of personal liberty versus personal safety.

Related faculty

John Goldkamp

Rely Vîlcicã

Selected Publications

Goldkamp, JS & Vîlcicã, ER (2008) Targeted enforcement and adverse system side effects: The generation of fugitives in Philadelphia. Criminology, 46(2): 371-410.

Goldkamp, JS & Vîlcicã, ER (in press) Judicial discretion and the unfinished agenda of American bail reform: Lessons from Philadelphia’s Evidence-based Judicial Strategy. Studies in Law, Politics and Society Volume 36.

Goldkamp, JS. (in press) Missing the target and missing the point: ‘Successful’ random assignment but misleading results. Journal of Experimental Criminology, Volume 4, Issue 2.

Goldkamp, JS & White, MD (2006) Restoring accountability in pretrial release: the Philadelphia Pretrial Release Supervision Experiments. Journal of Experimental Criminology, Volume 2, Issue 2: 143-181.

White, MD., Goldkamp, JS & Robinson, JB (2006) Acupuncture in drug treatment: Exploring its role and impact on participant behavior in the drug court setting.” Journal of Experimental Criminology, Volume 2, Issue 1: 45-65.