Habeas for the Twenty-First Century: Uses, Abuses, and the Future of the Great Writ, by Nancy J. King & Joseph L. Hoffmann

A new look at habeas corpus, with bold recommendations for change based on a comprehensive and thoughtful analysis of the writ’s role over the past two centuries, as well as the latest empirical research about its operation today.

The writ of habeas corpus remains at the center of some of the most contentious issues of our time—among them terrorism, immigration, crime, and the death penalty.    In this book, two of the nation’s leading experts on habeas corpus argue that the law and policy surrounding habeas should safeguard what it does best: enabling judges to protect freedom in times of crisis and transition. Using the latest empirical research, historical and legal analysis, and illustrative case studies, the authors examine the writ’s contemporary applications, from Guantanamo to death row, from the commitment of sex offenders to the deportation of illegal aliens, from parole denials to wrongful convictions, and reveal how habeas has in recent decades been seriously abused.  To redress this abuse, the authors argue that the writ must be exercised with greater prudence, and that its flexibility be safeguarded for the unanticipated challenges the nation will face in years to come.

“A thorough and enlightening study of the Great Writ. No discussion of habeas corpus in the postconviction context can afford to ignore this important book.”

- Professor Daniel J. Meltzer, Story Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

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Read our New York Times Op ed, arguing Congress should take action to reform habeas policy, and join the conversation