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Does Punishment Need Hard Treatment? A Reply to Duff.

Van Stokkom, Bas
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) In Erik Claes, René Foqué, and Tony Peters, eds., Punishment, Restorative Justice and the Morality of Law. Antwerp; Oxford: Intersentia. Pp. 165-178.

To accentuate the meaning of retribution and restoration I will examine some basic ideas of one specific retributive author and in many ways a True Believer: Antony Duff. The studies of this outstanding scholar contain some misleading aspects, particularly the old expiatory idea that suffering is a condition to generate personal repentance. I believe his positive interpretation of inflicting suffering is illusory and undesirable. In particular I will criticize the supposition that hard treatment and two-way communication are compatible. Nevertheless, Duff’s work contains many starting points for a solid foundation of restorative justice, like the view that proper punishment requires two-way communication, and that punishment is successful when it brings about moral self-reform. It is up to us to put Duff’s theory on firmer ground. In the last paragraph’s I will argue that hard treatment should be reserved for serious crimes when the public is shocked and the offender does not want to take responsibility. If the offender shows regret or repentance hard treatment seems to be superfluous. Before discussing Duff’s theory I will shortly examine two questions: Why do we have to rely on retribution? And What is hard treatment? (excerpt)


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