The Retributivist’s Case against Capital Punishment
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Imagine a society without rewards or punishments. Neither merit nor effort will be recognized. Honors will not go to the worthy. Emoluments will not be increased to encourage those who give more unstintingly or more wisely than others for the good of the community. Advance in an occupation will not depend on excellence or even on faithful service. Whatever a good citizen might deserve he will not get. If solidarity can be maintained at all, it will depend on general altruism and enlightened self-interest. There will be a sort of egalitarian quality of life, but it will be an egalitarianism without reason for hope. Better things to come cannot be expected by any member of this strange society.
KeywordsCriminal Justice Capital Punishment Criminal Justice System Crime Rate Moral Agent
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- 1.Thomas Jefferson, “Autobiography,” in The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Adrienne Koch and William Peden, ( New York: Modern Library, 1944 ), p. 46.Google Scholar
- 2.Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1948 ), p. 270.Google Scholar
- 3.Ibid., p. 271.Google Scholar
- 4.Ibid., pp. 271–272.Google Scholar
- 5.Ibid., p. 269.Google Scholar
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- 7.For a further statement of my views on the “rehabilitative ideal,” see John P. Conrad, “A Lost Ideal, A New Hope: The Way Toward Effective Correctional Treatment,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (Winter 1981), pp. 1699–1734.Google Scholar
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