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‘Retributivism, Punishment and Privilege.”

Braithwaite, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (1986) In: W. Groves and G. Newman (eds.), Punishment and Privilege. Albany, NY: Harrow and Heston, pp. 55-65.

A theorem of justice states that where desert is greatest punishment will be least. Though white collar and corporate criminals deserve greater punishment than street offenders, pursuing a policy of retributive punishment will do more harm than good because: (1) corporations will litigate sanctions endlessly, and (2) to prevent greater harm in future, corporations must have incentives to report harmful activities. Strict punishment will remove the incentive to self-report. Punishment should be used as a mechanism of last resort when there is no more constructive way of solving a social problem.


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