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Punishment

The words crime and punishment are inexorably associated in the common lexicon. It is considered a given that those men and women who transgress against the laws of the land, whatever that land may be, will be punished in keeping with local laws. A large slice of the public purse is spent to fund the agencies responsible for the apprehension, trial, and eventual punishment of those convicted of a crime. What might we, the taxpayers, expect in return for this expenditure? In other words, why punish?

The textbooks of many disciplines, including criminology, economics, law, philosophy, psychology, and sociology, give accounts of theories that seek to explain why punishment is a justifiable response to criminal behavior. These justifications for punishment are taken to be deterrence, retribution, ...

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