Guilty Until Proven Innocent: An Examination of the Growing Use of Preventive Detention

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Fall 2008

Project Description/Abstract

Detention of accused terrorist at Guantanamo Bay, internet sex stings, civil commitment, conspiracy charges, and a plethora of criminal charges focused on one’s “intent” have greatly expanded government’s power to punish people before they commit crimes. Whether it is a potential terrorist attack, sexual assault against a child, drug trafficking, murder or a white collar crime, government has decided to try and prevent these crimes from occurring. Yet or traditional approach has been to punish someone after a crime has been committed. In our legal system an individual is “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” By creating laws to prevent crime, we may be changing the very basis of our legal and criminal systems. This study will examine the growth of preventative detention laws, their impact on privacy and freedom, their success at crime reduction as well as unintended consequences.

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