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Punishment theory

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Life Without Parole Under Modern Theories Of Punishment, Paul H. Robinson Jun 2012

Life Without Parole Under Modern Theories Of Punishment, Paul H. Robinson

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Life without parole seems an attractive and logical punishment under the modern coercive crime-control principles of general deterrence and incapacitation, a point reinforced by its common use under habitual offender statutes like "three strikes." Yet, there is increasing evidence to doubt the efficacy of using such principles to distributive punishment. The prerequisite conditions for effective general deterrence are the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, effective and fair preventive detention is difficult when attempted through the criminal justice system. If we really are committed to preventive detention, it is better for both society and potential detainees that it be done …


The Ongoing Revolution In Punishment Theory: Doing Justice As Controlling Crime, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2010

The Ongoing Revolution In Punishment Theory: Doing Justice As Controlling Crime, Paul H. Robinson

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This lecture offers a broad review of current punishment theory debates and the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment that they suggest. This broader perspective attempts to explain in part the Model Penal Code's recent shift to reliance upon desert and accompanying limitation on the principles of deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.


Bentham On Stilts: The Bare Relevance Of Subjectivity To Retributive Justice, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders Jan 2010

Bentham On Stilts: The Bare Relevance Of Subjectivity To Retributive Justice, Dan Markel, Chad Flanders

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In recent work, various scholars have challenged retributive justice theorists to pay more attention to the subjective experience of punishment, specifically how punishment affects the experiences and well-being of offenders. The claim developed by these “subjectivists” is that because people’s experiences with pain and suffering differ, both diachronically and inter-subjectively, their punishments will have to be tailored to individual circumstances as well.

Our response is that this set of claims, once scrutinized, is either true, but of limited significance, or nontrivial, but unsound. We don’t doubt the possibility that different people will react differently to the same infliction of punishment. …


The A.L.I.'S Proposed Distributive Principle Of 'Limiting Retributivism': Does It Mean In Practice Anything Other Than Pure Desert?, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2003

The A.L.I.'S Proposed Distributive Principle Of 'Limiting Retributivism': Does It Mean In Practice Anything Other Than Pure Desert?, Paul H. Robinson

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Robinson supports the proposed "purposes" text of the New American Law Institute Report on Sentencing Reform but argues that in practice it will not mean what traditional utilitarians, like those supporting "limiting retributivism," are expecting. First, the proposed text allows reliance upon non-desert distributive principles only to the extent that they serve their stated goals. As the ALI Report concedes, there are limits to the effectiveness one can expect from rehabilitation and, as is now becoming apparent from social science research, our realistic expectations for the effectiveness of deterrence are similarly fading. It is true that incapacitation undoubtedly works to …


The Criminal-Civil Distinction And The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1996

The Criminal-Civil Distinction And The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson

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The communist Chinese have distinct criminal and civil systems, as do the democratic Swiss, and the monarchist Saudis.1 The criminal-civil distinction also is a basic organizing device for Islamic Pakistan, Catholic Ireland, Hindu India, and the atheistic former Soviet Union, industrialized Germany, rural Papua New Guinea, the tribal Bedouins, wealthy Singapore, impoverished Somalia, developing Thailand, newly organized Ukraine, and the ancient Romans. Apparently every society sufficiently developed to have a formal legal system usesthe criminal-civil distinction as an organizing principle. Why? Why has every society felt it necessary to create a system to impose criminal liability distinct from civil liability?