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Recidivist Punishments: The Philosopher's View

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ISBN 10: 0739149962 / ISBN 13: 9780739149966
Published by Lexington Books, 2011
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Title: Recidivist Punishments: The Philosopher's ...

Publisher: Lexington Books

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

About this title


In most Western penal systems, recidivist criminals are punished more harshly than first offenders. The philosophical grounds for this response are however difficult to grasp. According to the retributive ideal, recidivists deserve harsher punishments, independently of the eventual effects of the recidivist premium on crime rates. Different notions of “desert” have been advanced in the literature to substantiate this claim. However, all of them have this problem in common: how to justify a harsher punishment of an offender on grounds of a past offence which s/he already paid for?
According to a different approach, it is argued that by sentencing offenders to harsher punishments, particularly longer prison terms, we expect to deter them or other potential criminals from recidivating (individual and general deterrence) or at least we might keep them incapacitated by holding them in prison after the standard punishment has been served.
During the last decade or so, a different approach has been advanced that underlies the communicative function of penal sanctions. Starting from the assumption that the public subscribes a higher degree of blameworthiness to recidivism, it is then argued that this general opinion should be reflected in the penal sanctions if we don’t want to risk discrediting the legal system. Finally, it could be argued that, although we don’t know for sure how many (if at all) future crimes can be prevented by recidivist premiums, it is not justified to take any risks in that regard, as we would then failing to protect future crime victims. The price for averting this uncertainty should therefore be paid by those who have broken the law in the past, according to these authors. But this can be made by submitting them to non-traditional forms of punishments.
Much has been written about recidivist punishments, particularly within the area of criminology. There is however a notorious lack of (penal) philosophical reflection regarding this issue. In this book, all these different approaches to recidivist punishments are critically discussed with the ambition of filling that gap by presenting the philosophers’ view on this matter.

About the Author:

Claudio Tamburrini is a senior researcher at the Centre for Healthcare Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University.

Jesper Ryberg is professor of ethics and philosophy of law, and head of The Research Group for Criminal Justice Ethics, Roskilde University, Denmark.

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