Marquette University News Release

Criminal law scholar King to discuss ramifications of tougher sentencing for repeat offenders in Marquette Law Barrock Lecture

November 8, 2013

Event Information:
Date: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013
Time: 4:30 — 5:30 p.m.
Place: Marquette Law School, Eckstein Hall

Nancy J. King, an expert in criminal law and procedure and the Lee S. and Charles A. Speir Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University, will present this year’s Marquette University Law School George and Margaret Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law on Monday, Nov. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan St.

King, coauthor of Habeas for the Twenty-First Century: Uses, Abuses, and the Future of the Great Writ, will discuss the reliance upon criminal history when setting sentences, the debate surrounding the practice and other ongoing challenges of punishing repeat offenders in her lecture, “‘Once a Criminal … ?’ Recidivism and Punishment in the 21st Century.”

Courts and legislatures today routinely authorize punishment for repeat offenders that is far more severe than the punishment assigned those convicted for the first time. This reliance upon criminal history when setting sentences has a surprisingly fascinating history — and an uncertain future, King will explain.

In particular, recent constitutional rulings may threaten established procedures for assessing sentences for prior offenders; researchers continue to question the relationship between criminal history and culpability or future dangerousness; and commentators disagree whether using criminal history to calibrate punishment entrenches racial disparity in sentencing or helps to avoid it.

King received the 2010 Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award, given each year to a single Vanderbilt faculty member whose research has made distinctive contributions to the understanding of contemporary society.

“In focusing on recidivism policy in the Barrock Lecture, Prof. King has selected a criminal law and policy topic of great importance for Wisconsin and the country more generally,” said Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette Law School. “Her lecture will thus continue the process of the past five years of developing the Barrock Lecture into a premier event in criminal law academic and legal circles. We are fortunate once again to have attracted a scholar of Prof. King’s renown to deliver the Barrock Lecture.”

The Barrock Lecture was established by the late Mary Barrock Bonfield to honor her parents. Her father, George, was a 1931 graduate of Marquette University Law School.

Registration is required by Tuesday, Nov. 12, and can be completed online. Attendees can obtain a continuing legal education credit. Media interested in attending should contact Chris Jenkins in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-4745 or

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About Chris Jenkins

Chris Jenkins

Chris is the Associate Director of University Communication in the Office of Marketing and Communication. Contact Chris at (414) 288-4745 or View all posts by .