American Evil: A Response to Kleinfeld on Punishment

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50 Ariz. St. L.J. 179 (2018). Andrew Koppelman.

Joshua Kleinfeld argues that American moral understandings are reflected in its system of criminal justice. Far more than Europeans, Americans regard those who have committed crimes as irretrievably defective people whom it is appropriate to lock away for many years. Some Americans, Kleinfeld argues, hold this view in moralistic terms, regarding criminals as evil. Others are more instrumental, regarding criminals as irremediably dangerous. But the two sides come to the same policy conclusion: “[T]he crime problem is a criminals problem, and the solution is to separate criminals from ordinary people.”

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