The Wrong of Mass Punishment

Criminal Law and Philosophy 12 (1):45-57 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The increase in incarceration of offenders in the United States over the last 40 years has created a system of mass incarceration or mass punishment. While consequentialist theories of punishment may generate considerable doubts about the value of this system, it seems that retributive theories of punishment lack the resources to criticize mass punishment. Because of their focus on individual desert, it seems that they can say nothing about punishment in the aggregate. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for a certain kind of retributivism to question the justice of mass punishment. When retributive punishment is considered as one of the functions of a state whose task is to create and maintain a system of equal freedom for all, then punishment must be justified not only at the individual level but also at the level of the system of punishment as a whole. If the criminal justice system inflicts excessive amounts of punishment in the aggregate, it becomes unjust, not because individual offenders are treated unjustly, but because a policy of relentless prosecution and punishment is not appropriate for a free society.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 84,108

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Mass Incarceration and the Theory of Punishment.Vincent Chiao - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (3):431-452.
Punishment: Consequentialism.David Wood - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (6):455-469.
Making sense of retributivism.J. Angelo Corlett - 2001 - Philosophy 76 (1):77-110.
''Deterrent Punishment and Respect for Persons''.Zachary Hoskins - 2011 - Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 8 (2):369-384.
Free Will Denial and Punishment.Kevin J. Murtagh - 2013 - Social Theory and Practice 39 (2):223-240.
Capital Punishment: Its Lost Appeal?Christopher P. Ferbrache - 2013 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 21 (2):75-89.
The Complexity of the Concepts of Punishment.H. J. McGloskey - 1962 - Philosophy 37 (142):307 - 325.
Retributive parsimony.Richard L. Lippke - 2009 - Res Publica 15 (4):377-395.
Misguided Retribution: The Criminalization of Pregnant Women Who Take Drugs.Vicki Toscano - 2002 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
A Retributive Argument Against Punishment.Greg Roebuck & David Wood - 2011 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 5 (1):73-86.
Pacifism and Punishment.J. Angelo Corlett - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (4):945-958.


Added to PP

55 (#235,997)

6 months
7 (#131,232)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?