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September 7, 2010

Why should a legislator focused on public safety worry much about mental states?

As I will try to explain in class, the abstract question in the title of this post is lurking deep within many of the issues and debates we will be having in the next few weeks as we turn to an exploration of the critical and complicated concept of mens rea in the interpretation and application of criminal law. In addition to thinking about this question in public policy terms, you should also seek to connect this question with the punishment theory topics that occupied us during the first few weeks of class.

To provide some specificity as you begin reflecting on these issues, consider how legislators in Ohio and elsewhere ought to respond to this notable article from Monday's Columbus Dispatch, which is headlined "CDC: Beef up traffic laws," and starts this way:

Traffic deaths and injuries are a preventable scourge that cost the nation about $99 billion a year in medical bills and lost productivity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's about $500 for each licensed driver in America, according to a study by the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.  Researchers tallied the costs nationally using hospital, insurance and other data from 2005, when there were 3.7 million deaths and injuries from crashes.

They hope the cost information will persuade states and communities to take action to prevent traffic crashes, said Rebecca Naumann, a CDC epidemiologist and lead researcher on the study.

September 7, 2010 in Class reflections, Reflections on class readings | Permalink

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