Starger: Hacking Mass Incarceration

Colin Starger of the University of Baltimore has posted Hacking Mass Incarceration, at In Progress.

Here are excerpts from the post:

[…] Here at In Progress, we hope to contribute to collective efforts by hacking Supreme Court doctrine. The idea is to open up the law around prisons and make connections to help generate anti-mass incarceration constitutional arguments. What’s more, the goal is to crowdsource the connection-making process. To do this, I am experimenting with doctrinal map designs to facilitate non-specialist learning of complex doctrinal systems.

Last time, I charted out a series of Eighth Amendment doctrinal networks and found them large and unwieldy. It’s not realistic to expect anybody to read over 100 Supreme Court cases while mining for anti-mass-incarceration arguments. So this time, I want to narrow the focus. Below find the 2-degree citation network linking the Court’s 2011 prisoner overcrowding decision Brown v. Plata to 1958′s Trop v. Dulles, a seminal pronouncement about the Eighth Amendment’s meaning as a guarantee of human dignity in light of evolving standards of decency. […]

Note the new design feature of the map above: its interactivity. Click on the map and then click on any of the opinions. You’ll find yourself looking an HTML deck that (a) has a very quick summary of the case holding; and (b) contains links to open resources about the case provided by CourtListener, Cornell Legal Information Institute, Oyez, and the Supreme Court Database. Some of the decks also contain other potentially useful information — check out the Brown v. Plata deck as an example (make sure you tap your right arrow key!).

As the above map demonstrates, legal hacking is a collective activity. If the map helps at all, it is only because it leverages free resources provided by great organizations doing great work. The HTML Deck platform is an especially cool free resource created by Dave Zvenyach, the 2014 DC Legal Hacker of the Year. His example should inspire us all to tinker and build and seek creative solutions. […]

For the map and more details, please see the complete post.

HT @ColinStarger

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