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Series

Columbia Law School

1994

Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues

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Full-Text Articles in Law

What Is Punishment Imposed For?, George P. Fletcher Jan 1994

What Is Punishment Imposed For?, George P. Fletcher

Faculty Scholarship

The institution of punishment invites a number of philosophical queries. Sometimes the question is: How do we know that inflicting discomfort and disadvantage is indeed punishment? This is a critical question, for example, in cases of deportation or disbarment proceedings. Classifying the sanction as punishment triggers application of the Sixth Amendment and its procedural guarantees. In other situations the question might be: Why do we punish? What is the purpose of making people suffer? In this context, we encounter the familiar debates about the conflicting appeal of retribution, general deterrence, special deterrence, and rehabilitation.

In this article I wish to ...