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January 26, 2019

"Limiting Retributivism and Individual Prevention"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new book chapter authored by Christopher Slobogin now available via SSRN.  Here is its abstract:

Limiting retributivism, also known as modified desert theory, is a “mixed theory” of punishment that posits that retributive principles should set the outer bounds of a sentence, while the precise nature and duration of disposition should be designed to implement one or more independent criminal justice system goals.  This chapter focuses on a particular version of limiting retributivism, which it calls “preventive justice.”  A preventive justice regime adopts sentence ranges consistent with the offender’s desert and then relies on expert parole boards to determine the nature and duration of sentence within this range based on consideration of individual prevention goals (i.e., incapacitation, specific deterrence and rehabilitation).

The analysis of this chapter suggests that a system of relatively wide sentence ranges derived from retributive principles, in combination with short minimum sentences that are enhanced under limited circumstances by statistically-driven risk assessment and management, can alleviate many of the inherent tensions between desert and prevention, between deontology and political reality, and between the desire for community input and the allure of expertise.  If done properly, it should also significantly reduce prison populations.

January 26, 2019 at 03:59 PM | Permalink


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