The Case Against Punishment: Retribution, Crime Prevention, by Deirdre Golash

By Deirdre Golash

What ends does our felony justice method count on and wish to serve while it punishes wrongdoers? Does the punishment of offenders do extra damage than strong for American society? within the Case opposed to Punishment, Deirdre Golash addresses those and different questions about the worth of punishment in modern society.

Drawing on either empirical proof and philosophical literature, this publication argues that the damage performed by way of punishing felony offenders is eventually morally unjustified. announcing that punishment inflicts either meant and unintentional harms on offenders, Golash means that crime will be lowered via addressing social difficulties correlated with excessive crime premiums, akin to source of revenue inequality and native social disorganization. Punishment may well lessen crime, yet in so doing, motives a similar quantity of damage to offenders. as an alternative, Golash indicates, we must always handle felony acts via trial, conviction, and repayment to the sufferer, whereas additionally supplying the legal with the chance to reconcile with society via morally stable motion instead of punishment.

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We cannot be sure a priori that the consequences of such practices—perhaps in terms of deteriorating race relations—would be bad enough to outweigh the positive effects of increased crime prevention. This is an aspect of the failure of utilitarianism to account for unfair distribution of penalties, discussed in section IV below. As such, the prospects for improving dangerousness predictions by appeal to extralegal factors may be better regarded as a reason for rejecting the utilitarian approach altogether than as a hopeful sign that the benefits of punishment can be made to exceed its costs.

Some may think that we have criminal sanctions, rather than purely civil ones, for precisely this reason. 13 We would then, of course, have to impose that drastic alternative on those who were truly unable to raise the funds. Many nonutilitarians would find this unfair (a problem discussed in section IV below). For utilitarians, it would mean only that we would have to add in a bigger negative value for those who could not pay than for those who could—the good done through deterrence might still outweigh those harms.

The measure of the wrongness of crime, for utilitarians, is its effect on total happiness, not just its effect on the victim. Similarly, the test of the rightness of punishment is its effect on total happiness, not just its effect on the happiness of potential victims. In the case of property offenses, it is likely that the cost to victims is substantially counterbalanced by gains to offenders. If a thief steals $100 from me, I am $100 poorer, but he is $100 richer. If I am wealthier than More Good than Harm?

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