CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bronsteen, Buccafusco & Masur on Happiness and Punishment

Buccafusco The Legal Workshop has an interesting piece by John Bronsteen (Loyola-Chicago), Christopher Buccafusco (Chicago-Kent; pictured), and Jonathan Masur (University of Chicago), drawn from their article at 76 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1037 (2009). Here's how it starts:

New findings in hedonic psychology have implications for punishment theory.  Specifically, these findings suggest that criminals adapt surprisingly well to fines and even to incarceration, but that incarceration negatively affects post-prison life in ways that tend to be unadaptable.  These results increase the difficulty of using adjustments in the size of a fine or the length of a prison sentence to tailor a punishment to fit a crime.  Because such adjustments are our primary means of crafting proportional punishments, and because such proportionality is important to retributive and utilitarian theories of punishment, a problem with their effectiveness could necessitate a rethinking of penal assumptions.

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