CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tonry on Anormative Conceptions of Punishment and Humanitarian Ideals

Tonry michaelMichael Tonry (University of Minnesota Law School) has posted Anormative Conceptions of Punishment and Humanitarian Ideals on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

For the past quarter century, scholars have identified and attempted to explain large differences and changes over time in countries’ penal policies as expressed in their imprisonment rates. Explanations differ, and imprisonment rates change, sometimes radically, but one thing has remained the same. The countries atop the rankings have consistently included the United States, South Africa, Russia, the Baltics, Ukraine, and Belarus. What distinguishes them, and more recently England and Wales, which has led the Western European league tables for two decades, is that they are countries in which punishment discourses, policies, and practices take little account of the interests of offenders. "There but for the grace of God…" empathy is largely absent. Mainstream retributive and consequentialist theories of punishment appear to have little influence. Policies and practices, and the implicit punishment theory might best be described as anormative.

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