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Criminal Law

Desert

1997

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The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley Jan 1997

The Utility Of Desert, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley

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The article takes up the debate between utility and desert as distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment and concludes that a utilitarian analysis that takes account of all costs and benefits will support the distribution of liability and punishment according to desert, or at least according to the principles of desert as perceived by the community. It reaches this conclusion after an examination of a variety of recent social science data. On the one hand, it finds the traditional utilitarian theories of deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation to have little effect in many instances. It finds instead that the real …