Source: (2012) Vanderbilt Law Review 65: 737-827

The criminal law's formal criteria for assessing punishment are typically contained in criminal codes, the rules of which fix an offender's liability and the grade of the offense. Those rules classically look to an offender's blameworthiness, taking account of both the seriousness of the harm or the evil of the offense and an offender's culpability and mental capacity. Courts generally examine these desert-based factors as they exist at the time of the offense. To some extent, modern crime-control theory sometimes prompts code drafters to look at circumstances beyond the offense itself, such as prior criminal record, on the grounds that these factors relate to the crime-control goals of deterrence and incapacitation.'. (Excerpt)