skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 98994 Find in a Library
Title: Retributivism and Justice
Journal: Connecticut Law Review  Volume:16  Issue:4  Dated:(Summer 1984)  Pages:803-820
Author(s): T H Morawetz
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper critiques the debate on the justification for punishment in the criminal justice system and proposes a new conceptual methodology that reconciles the polar positions of the debate.
Abstract: The paper's opening section delineates the traditional goals of criminal punishment -- incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation, and retribution -- and notes the problem in justifying retribution compared with other punishment goals, since it has no obvious connection with crime reduction and social improvement. The second section examines four influential theories of punishment as presented in the writings of Anthony Quinton, John Rawls, H.L.A. Hart, and theorists the author classifies as 'true retributivists.' Quinton and Rawls present arguments for the utilitarian or forward-looking justification for punishment (punishment should improve the social order by reducing crime) in opposition to the retributive justification for punishment (the guilty must be punished with fitting severity). Hart offers a justification for punishment that encompases both the utilitarian and retributive arguments, but the author argues that he does not attempt to reconcile utilitarianism and retributivism at the theoretical level. The author then introduces a new conceptual methodology that incorporates retributivism into a 'forward-looking' mode (the common good is served). The author reasons that although retribution may not reduce crime, it affirms moral values and society's commitment to upholding them. This serves the common good by touting values of nonpredatory and life-enhancing behaviors. Sixty-one footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Corrections policies; Just deserts theory; Punishment
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.