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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.
How can the brutal and costly enterprise of criminal punishment be justified? This book makes a provocative, original contribution to the philosophical literature and debate on the morality of punishing, arguing that punishment is justified in the duties that offenders incur as a result of their wrongdoing.
In this unique collection, a distinguished group of social theorists reflect upon the ways in which crime and its control feature in the political and cultural landscapes of contemporary societies. The book brings together for the first time some of today's most powerful social analysts in a discussion of the meaning of crime and punishment in late-modern society. The result is a stimulating and provocative volume that will be of equal interest to specialist criminologists and those working in the fields of social and cultural studies.
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 question "What can justify criminal punishment ?" becomes especially insistent at times, like our own, of penal crisis, when serious doubts are raised not only about the justice or efficacy of particular modes of punishment, but about the very legitimacy of the whole penal system. Recent theorizing about punishment offers a variety of answers to that question-answers that try to make plausible sense of the idea that punishment is justified as being deserved for past crimes; answers that try to identify some beneficial consequences in terms of which punishment might be justified; as well as abolitionist answers telling us that we should seek to abolish, rather than to justify, criminal punishment. This book begins with a critical survey of recent trends in penal theory, but goes on to develop an original account (based on Duff's earlier Trials and Punishments) of criminal punishment as a mode of moral communication, aimed at inducing repentance, reform, and reconciliation through reparation-an account that undercuts the traditional controversies between consequentialist and retributivist penal theories, and that shows how abolitionist concerns can properly be met by a system of communicative punishments. In developing this account, Duff articulates the "liberal communitarian" conception of political society (and of the role of the criminal law) on which it depends; he discusses the meaning and role of different modes of punishment, showing how they can constitute appropriate modes of moral communication between political community and its citizens; and he identifies the essential preconditions for the justice of punishment as thus conceived-preconditions whose non-satisfaction makes our own system of criminal punishment morally problematic. Punishment, Communication, and Community offers no easy answers, but provides a rich and ambitious ideal of what criminal punishment could be-an ideal of what criminal punishment cold be-and ideal that challenges existing penal theories as well as our existing penal theories as well as our existing penal practices.
This classic collection of essays, first published in 1968, represents H.L.A. Hart's landmark contribution to the philosophy of criminal responsibility and punishment. Unavailable for ten years, this new edition reproduces the original text, adding a new critical introduction by John Gardner, a leading contemporary criminal law theorist.

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