Retributivism and Over-Punishment

22 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2020

Date Written: September 2, 2020

Abstract

I argue that a retributive penal philosophy should not be blamed for contributing to our present epidemic of mass incarceration and tendency to over-punish. My paper has three parts. In the first, I make a number of conceptual points about retributivism that reveal it to have the resources to combat our current crisis. In the second part, I construct desert-based arguments for decriminalizing some offenses that have led too many persons to be punished. In the third part, I suggest that desert favors an expansion in the scope and number of defenses that have the potential to retard the severity of punishment. If my arguments are sound, retributivism should be regarded as part of the solution to our predicament rather than its cause.

Suggested Citation

Husak, Douglas, Retributivism and Over-Punishment (September 2, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3685382 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3685382

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