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THE new Yugoslav Criminal Code, which became effective on July 1, 1951,
is of twofold interest to students of criminal law. First of all, it is a contemporary
specimen of codification. More importantly, it is an instrument
reflecting the ideological assumptions of a Communist State.
The achievement of justice in criminal cases depends upon four interacting
variables: personnel, administration, procedure, and the substantive law
of crimes. Criminal law reformers have been concerned chiefly with the first
three. For example, there have been important studies of crime causation
and legal responsibility. The revulsion against retribution as the aim of punishment-
generated by Nineteenth Century Humanitarianism-has been fortified
by the new insights into human motivation revealed by the behavior sciences.
The development of probation, parole, and other release procedures as alternatives
to penal commitment, and the individualization of sentencing and
treatment, are other trends of significance. The American Law Institute's
Code of Criminal Procedure and the recent Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
have given impetus to needed improvements in criminal procedure.
In the end, however, criminal justice must rest upon a satisfactory substantive
law of crimes. Although Great Britain and the United States stand
in the vanguard of the penological reform movement, the forces directing
this movement have shown little interest in the criminal law proper. In fact,
the substantive law of crimes in the United States remains uncertain, obscure,
formally defective, inconsistent and antiquated. If by codification is meant
the effort to simplify, synthesize and systematize law by the positive legislative
formulation of inclusive and operationally defined principles, Great
Britain and the United States have lagged far behind Continental countries.
There are compilations of statutes, sometimes designated as codes and sometimes
not, but these are rarely systematic bodies of law. There have been
sporadic and haphazard amendments to the statutes but these have been
mostly patch-work jobs. Except for the 1942 Louisiana Code, there have
been but few major efforts to codify the substantive law of crimes.
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