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Death, Taxes, and- Punishment? A Response to Braithwaite and Tonry

Steiker, Carol S.
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) UCLA Law Review. 46: 1793

In this essay Carol Steiker responds to two papers: one by John Braithwaite and one by Michael Tonry. The common theme in each that she addresses is their argument that criminal punishment, or at least certain manifestations of it, may well disappear or significantly diminish in the United States in the future. Steiker is skeptical and pessimistic about this prospect. She states that punishment as it is perceived and applied in the United States may be far more immutable – more like “death and taxes.” She bases her position on the perspective that punitiveness is both engendered and reinforced, at least in part, by social conditions and institutional arrangements that show no signs of changing.


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