Ethan Leib (and his co-authors, Dan Markel of Florida State and Jennifer Collins of Wake Forest) have just published an article in the University of Illinois Law Review critiquing the many benefits dispensed by the criminal justice system on the basis of family ties. Here is the abstract:
This Article asks two basic questions: When does, and when should, the state use the criminal justice apparatus to accommodate family ties, responsibilities, and interests? We address these questions by first revealing a variety of laws that together form a string of family ties subsidies and benefits pervading the criminal justice system. Notwithstanding our recognition of the important role family plays in securing the conditions for human flourishing, we then explain the basis for erecting a Spartan presumption against these family ties subsidies and benefits within the criminal justice system. We delineate the scope and rationale for the presumption and under what circumstances it might be overcome. When the presumption is overcome, we urge distributing the benefit on terms that are neutral to family status, if possible, with a focus instead on functions served by established relationships of care-giving responsibility.
Here's the link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=933427
Or, if you prefer to see it in published format: http://home.law.uiuc.edu/lrev/publications/2000s/2007/2007_4/index.html