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It is generally assumed that we are justified in punishing criminals because they have committed a morally wrongful act. Determining when criminal liability should be imposed calls for a moral assessment of the conduct in question, with criminal liability tracking as closely as possible the contours of morality. Versions of this view are frequently argued for in philosophical accounts of crime and punishment, and seem to be presumed by lawyers and policy makers working in the criminal justice system. Challenging such assumptions, this book considers the dominant justifications of punishment and subjects them to a piercing moral critique. It argues that none overcome the objection that people who are convicted of a serious crime and sent to prison have their basic human rights violated. The institution of criminal punishment is shown to be a regrettable necessity not deserving of the moral enthusiasm it enjoys among many politicians and the popular press. From a moral point of view, punishment is entitled at best to grudging toleration. In the course of developing the argument, the book introduces the principal issues of criminal law theory with the aim of presenting a morally enlightened perspective on crimes and why we punish them. Enforcement of the law by police, prosecutors, and courts is a matter of concern for political morality, and the principal practices of the criminal justice system are subjected to moral scrutiny. The book offers an engaging, provocative introduction to thinking about the philosophy of crime and punishment, challenging students and other readers to think about whether we are justified in punishing wrongdoers.
Presenting an engaging critique of current criminal justice practice in the UK and USA, this book introduces central questions of criminal law theory. It develops a forceful argument that the prevailing justifications for punishment are misguided, and have resulted in the systematic infliction of unnecessary human misery.
This book presents a comprehensive theory of a culpability-based criminal law.
Hundreds of thousands of the inmates who populate the nation's jails and prison systems today are identified as mentally ill. Many experts point to the deinstitutionalization of mental hospitals in the 1960s, which led to more patients living on their own, as the reason for this high rate of incarceration. But this explanation does not justify why our society has chosen to treat these people with punitive measures. In Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness, Patricia E. Erickson and Steven K. Erickson explore how societal beliefs about free will and moral responsibility have shaped current policies and they identify the differences among the goals, ethos, and actions of the legal and health care systems. Drawing on high-profile cases, the authors provide a critical analysis of topics, including legal standards for competency, insanity versus mental illness, sex offenders, psychologically disturbed juveniles, the injury and death rates of mentally ill prisoners due to the inappropriate use of force, the high level of suicide, and the release of mentally ill individuals from jails and prisons who have received little or no treatment.
In The Immorality of Punishment Michael Zimmerman argues forcefully that not only our current practice but indeed any practice of legal punishment is deeply morally repugnant, no matter how vile the behaviour that is its target. Despite the fact that it may be difficult to imagine a state functioning at all, let alone well, without having recourse to punishing those who break its laws, Zimmerman makes a timely and compelling case for the view that we must seek and put into practice alternative means of preventing crime and promoting social stability.
The New Jim Crow was initially published with a modest first printing and reasonable expectations for a hard-hitting book on a tough topic. Now, ten-plus printings later, the long-awaited paperback version of the book Lani Guinier calls “brave and bold,” and Pulitzer Prize–winner David Levering Lewis calls “stunning,” will at last be available. In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. Featured on The Tavis Smiley Show, Bill Moyers Journal, Democracy Now, and C-Span’s Washington Journal, The New Jim Crow has become an overnight phenomenon, sparking a much-needed conversation—including a recent mention by Cornel West on Real Time with Bill Maher&mdas;about ways in which our system of mass incarceration has come to resemble systems of racial control from a different era.
As a pioneer of the modern legal novel and a criminal lawyer, Scott Turow has been involved with the death penalty for more than a decade, including successfully representing two different men convicted in death-penalty prosecutions. In this vivid account of how his views on the death penalty have evolved, Turow describes his own experiences with capital punishment from his days as an impassioned young prosecutor to his recent service on the Illinois commission which investigated the administration of the death penalty and influenced Governor George Ryan's unprecedented commutation of the sentences of 164 death row inmates on his last day in office. Along the way, he provides a brief history of America's ambivalent relationship with the ultimate punishment, analyzes the potent reasons for and against it, including the role of the victims' survivors, and tells the powerful stories behind the statistics, as he moves from the Governor's Mansion to Illinois' state-of-the art 'super-max' prison and the execution chamber.

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