Incapacitating the Habitual Criminal: The English Experience

In this Article, Sir Leon Radzinowicz and .Dr. Roger Hood trace 150 years of unsuccessful English efforts to identify, sentence, and reform habitual criminal offenders. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Rummel v. Estelle has publicized habitual offender statutes in the United States. But Rummel primarily addressed the constitutionality, rather than the desirability, of a state habitual offender statute. This Article examines the broader policy questions common to habitual offender programs in both the United Stales and Great Britain. It describes the tension between liberal tradition and the state’s desire to incapacitate those who repeatedly threaten life or property.