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University of Augsburg to host conference highlighting Prof. Robinson’s scholarship on criminal law theory and policy

November 28, 2018

On November 29 and 30, the University of Augsburg in Germany will host a conference highlighting the work of Paul Robinson, Penn Law’s Colin S. Diver Professor of Law, on the subject of criminal law theory and policy. The conference is entitled “Punishing in the name of the people? Exploring the relevance of empirical needs for punishment by the general public in terms of penal theory and criminal policy,” and will feature presentations by scholars from universities throughout Europe and participation by professors from China, Poland, and South Korea.

The attending scholars have developed their work against the backdrop of Professor Robinson’s influential empirical research and scholarship on criminal punishment, in particular his two classic works Distributive Principles of Criminal Law (Oxford, 2008) and Intuitions of Justice and Utility of Desert (Oxford, 2013). On the first day of the conference, Robinson will deliver the keynote address entitled “A Truce in the Distributive Principle Wars?” followed by a dinner speech that evening entitled “Empirical Desert and Criminal Law Codification, Domestic and Foreign.”

The second day of the conference, other scholars will discuss papers commenting on Robinson’s ideas as well as presenting their own views on a wide range of subjects, including crime prevention and constitutional law, an evidence-based theory of retributive justice, the scope of self-defense, and empirical arguments over penal theory. Throughout the program, Robinson will participate in critiquing and workshopping the work of the scholars who present at the conference.

Robinson’s dinner speech will build upon his substantial experience bringing his scholarly ideas to life through the drafting of criminal codes in a number of states, including Illinois, Kentucky, and most recently Delaware, as well as a number of foreign countries including Muslim countries, most recently Somalia.

“I couldn’t be more excited that these European scholars have taken an interest in the ideas about the need for criminal law to reflect shared community views,” said Robinson, discussing the upcoming conference. “The Chinese have been translating my books for a decade, but it is only within the last year or two that there has been a serious European interest and I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Robinson is one of the world’s leading criminal law scholars, and has lectured in more than 100 cities in 27 countries. His most recent book, Crimes that Changed our World: Tragedy, Outrage, and Reform, co-authored with Sarah Robinson, is written for a general audience and was published in 2018. He is currently at work on a project arguing for the recognition of a general mitigation provision that empowers juries to reduce the grade of any offense induced by mental or emotional disturbance.