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Are Shaming Punishments Beautifully Retributive? Retributivism and the Implications for the Alternative Sanctions Debate

Markel, Dan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Vanderbilt law Review. 54(6): 2157-2242.

In recent years, scholars and policymakers in criminal justice have given increasing attention to two topics: the retributivist theory of punishment; and the development of alternative sanctions to the orthodoxy of incarcerating criminals in publicly managed prisons. Against this background, Markel explores connections that may be drawn between what justifies punishment and how we actually go about punishing offenders. In particular, he pursues these matters in relation to the rise of alternative sanctions, especially shaming punishments (which he distinguishes from reintegrative shaming). His major topics include the following: the fall and rise of shaming punishments; the problematics of shame; the confrontational conception of retribution; and retribution and alternative sanctions. His aims are to explain why shaming punishments are antithetical to retributivism; to argue for the internal intelligibility of retribution through a confrontational conception of retribution; and to give qualified endorsement to the use of alternative sanctions such as guilt punishments and privately managed prisons.


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