« "Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona" | Main | Documentary film about capital punishment, "The Penalty," starts screening in Ohio »

January 21, 2018

"Sentencing in Time"

The title of this post is the title of this recent publication authored by Linda Ross Meyer via the Amherst College Press. Here is how the work is described:

Exactly how is it we think the ends of justice are accomplished by sentencing someone to a term in prison?  How do we relate a quantitative measure of time — months and years — to the objectives of deterring crime, punishing wrongdoers, and accomplishing justice for those touched by a criminal act?  Linda Ross Meyer investigates these questions, examining the disconnect between our two basic modes of thinking about time — chronologically (seconds, minutes, hours), or phenomenologically (observing, taking note of, or being aware of the passing of time).

In Sentencing in Time, Meyer asks whether — in overlooking the irreconcilability of these two modes of thinking about time — we are failing to accomplish the ends we believe the criminal justice system is designed to serve.  Drawing on work in philosophy, legal theory, jurisprudence, and the history of penology, Meyer explores how, rather than condemning prisoners to an experience of time bereft of meaning, we might instead make the experience of incarceration constructively meaningful — and thus better aligned with social objectives of deterring crime, reforming offenders, and restoring justice.

January 21, 2018 at 12:41 PM | Permalink


Incapacitation serves the future crime victim. It is the sole benefit of prison. Prison terms got longer, crime dropped 40%. They may have been transferred to inside the prison, but 40% fewer people outside them were victimized. The people benefiting most were blacks.

Lawyers lost jobs, so mandatory guidelines were taken down. That movement was led by the most conservative Justice on the Supreme Court, with the eager complicity of his left wing colleagues.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 21, 2018 1:09:46 PM

We could not make prison any more of a meaningful experience without resorting to out-and-out torture. While I would not have a problem with that I doubt it is an idea that would go over well with a super-majority of the electorate.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 22, 2018 1:21:11 AM

Prisons are not for the benefit of the prisoner, but to protect the public.

I know the lawyer makes a living from the criminal, and not from protecting the public. If you want to punish and deter the real criminals in this system, tie prosecutor and defender pay to the crime rate.

The sole measurement of the crime rate with validity is the household crime victimization rate. Salaries of these worthless government make work rent seekers should be tied to the local crime rate. It goes up 5%, the salary of the lawyer should drop the same fraction. The reverse should be true.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 22, 2018 2:37:44 AM

Soronel writes that he would "not have a problem" with torture in prison. I suggest he move to Iran or Syria where torture in prison is commonplace.

Posted by: anon1 | Jan 22, 2018 10:04:01 AM

Hi, Anon1. You need to move to Venezuela. It is a lawyer paradise, high crime rate, massive legal procedure, years of billings to resolve the smallest case, in the endstage of the platform of the Democratic Party.

You can start a weight lost tourism business. If you are 500 lbs., and diets have failed. You blew out the gastric bypass. Your doctor is saying, you may die soon. You feel frustrated. Come to Venezuela. You are guaranteed to lose weight. You can get exercise by spending all day searching for food in piles of garbage.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 22, 2018 11:10:22 AM

For once I have to agree with David, the purpose of incarceration is to keep the person from victimizing others, not just to punish them.
Doesn't mean we can't force the person to go through psychological treatment if they're a psychopath or sociopath--if they're going to be released later, it's good for them to be treated for their mental illnesses that caused them to commit in the first place.
But the main purpose is to keep others safe from them--which means incarceration. That's why more dangerous people get longer sentences, even if their crimes weren't as bad.
We could put them in a mental hospital instead of prison, but they have to be confined to a place far away from others.

Posted by: Reopening the Gov | Jan 22, 2018 4:06:15 PM


My actual preference would be to execute nearly all felons and a good number of misdemeanants as well.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 22, 2018 4:32:30 PM

Soronel. I estimated that 10,000 executions was the sweet spot, to eradicate the violent birth cohort terrorizing our nation, especially our inner city, black areas. It would supplement the 10000 murders a year of this group.

Now, we have 60,000 opioid overdose deaths. That is way beyond any number to eliminate crime. It will do so for generations as it also drops the fecundity of the violent criminal.

NJ Governor Chris Christie is leading a movement to stop this effect. He was a federal prosecutor. He claims he is interested because his best friend from law school, a brilliant individual, was tragically taken from us in this manner. I do not believe him, of course. He is afraid of losing the lawyer customer.

Once crime is down to nil, move on to arresting, trying, sentencing the hierarchy of the criminal cult enterprise that is the lawyer profession. They would go into general population. They would all be dispatched. It would cost just some cartons of cigarettes to the few lifers kept alive.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 22, 2018 8:43:41 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB