Dressler, p. 30-31
1. Why is punishment warranted?
2. What conditions make punishment necessary in a particular case?
3. What is the appropriate severity of punishment in a particular case?
Greenwalt also talks about why threatened punishment is sometimes not carried out and what the results might be. He then introduces the two broad schools of thought on punishment.
Retributivism – People ought to be punished because they deserve it.
Utilitarianism – Punishment has useful purposes.
Notes and Questions
1. The three questions are restated.
is “punishment”? How about: “pain
applied to a person by society in response to that individual’s violation of a
law”? It seems that it would be clearer
a. Is it performed by, and directed at, responsible agents? If it’s for people, by people, it would seem to fit this criterion.
b. Are the consequences harmful by design? Those who wrote the statute might be of two minds on this issue. In their heart of hearts, they may want to cause harm, but in order to successfully pass the statute, they must couch it in terms of treatment.
c. Are the consequences preceded by condemnation? Maybe not. Someone could be committed, it would seem, even if they haven’t already committed a crime.
d. Is the action performed by someone in authority? The statute grants the authority where it is needed. All in all, the status of SVPA as punishment seems far from clear.
3. Retributivism seeks to correct past wrongs, utilitarianism seeks to prevent future wrongs.