Review of a book by Lynn Stout, Cultivating Conscience: How Good Laws Make Good People. The review provides a synopsis of Dr. Stout’s thesis, she has tied together the results of modern research from a broad range of relevant science threads to present strong argument against the punitive and overly complex laws and rules that are the norm today.
She argues that the populist lowest common denominator laws with their no tolerance, zero sum, economic animal analysis of the human mind, far from making us safer and more law-abiding are deeply damaging to the social fabric we all depend on. She points out the mechanisms that lie behind some of the strikingly good results of modern urban policing and that these same mechanisms can be expanded more broadly. This probably explains why experiments with shaming young drug offenders seems to have better results than time in jail.
Lynn Stout is the Paul Hastings Professor of Corporate and Securities Law at the UCLA School of Law. She is the coauthor of several books and a frequent commentator for NPR, PBS, and the “Wall Street Journal”.
(This is a bit of an update with the book link…and bio from B&N book page)