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I have a question regarding The Dark Knight Rises. It is shown in the film, that the police managed for 8 years to completely suppress the Gotham criminal world by using the Dent Act, proposed after

the death of Harvey Dent in the previous movie.

The question is - what is this act about? I mean, what kind of law improvement did it make so that the crime would cease to exist for such a long period? This question has two aspects:

  • The main obstacle in fighting the crime is the need for the Police itself to obey the Law and not to violate the Rights of the criminals. You cannot torture people under suspicion, these people have a right for lawyer and etc. How could Dent Act violate that? After all, Gotham is just a city, not even a state. Therefore it cannot introduce laws that contradict state laws and federal laws (although I am not an US citizen and not sure about that).
  • The economical basis. Organized crime exists due to the nature of the market trade economy. If it is profitable to sell drugs, there always will be someone who sells them. If prostitution is profitable, someone will always practice that. In order to defeat the basis of the crime world you have to change drastically the economy basis. Could the Dent act do that?
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The image below shows a press release regarding the Dent Act. It appears the act allows the denial of parole, as well as the creation of "stricter penalties". This appears to make sure that crime lords can't pay their way out of prison, and average thugs have less incentive to work with them as well.

Whether or not that's actually legal at a federal level doesn't entirely matter, as the Dent Act is a plot device to show that Gotham City was peaceful at one point, and that Dent died a hero.

Dent Act

The source is unfortunately a retired Mountain Dew campaign website (DewGothamCity.com). But I guess that's what happens with popular fiction.

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  • I'm aware that's a huge image. I can remove it or create a hyperlink to it if necessary. – Will F Dec 5 '13 at 20:48
  • I'd say image should stay. It's 100% relevant – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 5 '13 at 21:05
  • So elimination of parole and stricter penalties managed to defeat crime? It's hard to believe that, because most of the human history there was no parole and the penalties were very strict, including tortures and death sentence. However, most of the human history organized crime managed to survive under such conditions – SPIRiT_1984 Dec 6 '13 at 3:21
  • In the press release it states that's just one of the main features. The actual act would likely include more items, but it's hard to say exactly what. Overall I'd say the Dent Act would never be plausible or as effective in the real world. – Will F Dec 6 '13 at 14:39
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  1. The Dent Act didn't violate any rights of criminals. If anything, its main provision, denying parole, is not unconstitutional at all. A lot of laws deny parole to people depending on certain criminal behaviors, especially repeated criminal offenses. In this case, it denies parole to those in the organized crime machine.

  2. The economic factor of organized crime isn't important since Dent's prosecution and the mob leaders' deaths had already severely damaged the machine. Dent's prosecution had already locked up 549 of Gotham's 1000 mobsters. After 18 months of jail time, according to the mayor, the men would try to appeal by using any dirt about Harvey. But since Batman took the fall for Dent, there wasn't any dirt to be found so the criminals were locked up still. And since the rest of the mobsters had no leader and Joker was arrested, it would be very easy to capture them and then pass the Dent Act to deny parole to all mobsters. So, since the machine was already so damaged and denying parole basically locks up any mobster for good, regardless of economic opportunities, it was impossible for organized crime to bounce back.

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  • "Parole" isn't a Constitutional Right, it's an option that allows for the early release of a person serving a sentence if that person has shown they can be trusted to return to society. Good behaviour, participation in educational opportunities and/or work-release programs can all count towards a positive parole hearing leading to early release. – Joe L. Aug 31 '14 at 20:52

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