Conscience (rule) utilitarianism and the criminal law

Law and Philosophy 14 (1):65 - 89 (1995)
Abstract
A rule- utilitarian appraisal of criminal law requires that the total system, including punishments, is justified only if it will expectably maximize public benefit, including its stigmatizing some behaviors as "offenses" and its prescribed punishment of these, such as imprisonment, with (possible) deterrent effects. In view of the paucity of evidence about the deterrent effect of prison sentences, some changes seem to be in order: reduction in the length of incarceration, replacement of prison by fines or restrictions on the convicted such as house arrest for many hours of a day, intensive supervision, required community service (say thirty hours in place of a month in prison), enrollment in a drug program or therapy in the case of sex offenses, and so on. An evaluation of such proposals should be based on statistics and the psychology of criminal behavior
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