Criminal Law and Philosophy 14 (3):381-393 (2020)

Douglas Husak
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
I describe how our understanding of some of the central principles long held dear by most criminal theorists may have to be interpreted in light of the need to devise lenient responses for low-level offenders. Several of the most plausible suggestions for how to deal with minor infractions force us to take seriously some ideas that many legal philosophers have tended to resist elsewhere. I briefly touch upon four topics: whether informal can substitute for or count against the appropriate state sanction; the significance of repeat offending for sentencing; whether punishment for culpable public wrongdoing has intrinsic value; and the scope of police powers in a liberal democratic state. The context for this discussion is R. A. Duff’s insightful examination of whether and under what conditions we should criminalize a public wrong or respond to it in some other manner.
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DOI 10.1007/s11572-019-09505-9
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