Dalhousie Law Journal


Contemporary, punishment, views, explanations, justification


This is an anthology of readings, mostly well-known ones by wellknown contemporary authors, on the aims and justifications of criminal sanctions and limitations on their operation. One of the editors is an assistant professor of philosophy and law at the University of Notre Dame and the other is an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois. They were encouraged to make the collection by the well-known criminologist, Norval Morris, who contributes a short foreword in which he says that "It will be of use to student, scholar and all practitioners in the criminal justice system who care to lift their eyes from the routine path to the direction they wish to travel". The anthology is divided into three parts. Part I, "The Context for Punishment", is an introductory chapter on criminal law and criminal punishment, designed to provide the reader with a context in which to view the problem of punishment; the first two out of the five readings in it are, auspiciously enough, from those two masters of articulate expression and literary charm, the late Henry Hart of Harvard and the late Herbert L. Packer of Stanford. Part II, "Four Basic Views on Punishment", consists of four chapters, each containing five readings, that correspond with the four classical distinctions among purposes for punishment with which even plumberlawyers and the courts are familiar: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. To the understanding of the way these purposes differ from one another the editors have adopted a helpful summary in their introduction (pp. 3-4) and a two to three page prefatory note to each of the four chapters, in which they indicate, in a very general way, what problems it deals with and what is the special nuance of each of the readings in it. Part III, "Seeking a Unity for Punishment Theories", much less abstract and much more pragmatic than the selections in Part II with their, for the most part, all-ornothing approach, is "devoted to the theme of creating a working unity among conflicting values attached to punishment and gives the best thinking of contemporary scholars on the subject" (p. 2). A "topic" or "subject" index would have been useful to the earnest seeker after knowledge like myself who wants help in placing one not-too-familiar idea next to its opposite or parallel not-too-familiar idea, but that is, I realize, too much to expect of two young professors who did not set out to write a book of their own but only to collect what in their view was the best of what others had written.

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Criminal Law Commons