Why Criminal Justice Isn't Just ("Much of our legal system is based on unsupported gut intuitions about how human beings behave that have been around for generations.")

I think this article has a lot of good points. A big part of current sentencing is retribution, to satisfy the need for revenge. Whenever justice is criticized for being too soft, that is often at the core of the argument. That the offender did not suffer enough for his deeds.

The claim that incarceration is a great tool for deterrence can be refuted if you look at the american prison system. They have among the highest and longest sentences in the western world, yet that doesn't seem to deter many people. In the opposit, the prisons are overflowing. Prison building and maintaining has to be privatized to companies because the State can't keep up.

The author is not against punishment, I believe, as this is an important paragraph:

We need to quit wasting time trying to sort out who deserves blame and get out of the payback business. Instead, we should focus on remedying the harm, rehabilitating the criminal, discouraging others from taking similar actions, and treating the conditions that precipitated the crime in the first place.

If we manage to find a way for an offender to "pay back his debts" in a constructive way, that surely is preferable to mere punishment. Making ammends should be higher up in the evaluation.

And concerning the individual deterrence (which is basically rehabilitation): if we can make prisoners into better people in prison, they will be less likely to reoffend.

Just imagine a world where everyone is treated so well (and not just coddled, but treated so that the cause could be cured that causes crime as a symptom) that all those crimes that were commited out of necessity, out of influence grown from the environment would just not happen anymore. Then what's left would be those crimes that stem from some sort of evil mind.

But it doesn't harm to brainstorm if we could achieve goals in this direction.

/r/law Thread Parent Link - chronicle.com