“Punishment” concentrates on specific questions about what the law should provide. It explores a number of bases claimed to justify criminal penalties. A notable division exists between the idea that violators simply deserve punishment, a theory of retribution, and various utilitarian notions that punishment can deter criminal actions, isolate those who might again commit crimes and help to reform them, and also assist those who have suffered to feel better. Neither approach works in isolation. People should not be criminally punished unless that will help to accomplish some goal, but even if it would be useful, innocent persons should not be punished; and no one should be punished with a severity out of proportion to any crime he committed. Although some nuances in authorized punishment are questionable, notably strict liability that can carry a serious penalty, most major features of the substantive law are consistent with the underlying justifications.
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