The lurking punitive threat: The philosophy of necessity and challenges for reform

Despite some encouraging reforms and a new optimism in criminal justice, problematic punishment persists in the USA. In this article, I argue that the difficulties of reform stem, in part, from an ingrained ‘philosophy of necessity' that places punishment at the core of how to think about crime...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Theoretical criminology
Main Author: Goshe, Sonya (Author)
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2019
In:Theoretical criminology
Year: 2019, Volume: 23, Issue: 1, Pages: 25-42
Online Access: Resolving-System
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Summary:Despite some encouraging reforms and a new optimism in criminal justice, problematic punishment persists in the USA. In this article, I argue that the difficulties of reform stem, in part, from an ingrained ‘philosophy of necessity' that places punishment at the core of how to think about crime and social problems, and promotes a worldview that overvalues punishment's ability to provide safety, provoke change and ensure justice. The philosophy of necessity grants punishment the ‘benefit of the doubt', even when such confidence is unwarranted, and fosters reliance on punitive norms that encourage excess and abuse. A series of features work together to encourage the philosophy of necessity in the USA: blindness to the history of using punishment to ensure economic and social security for the privileged, ongoing policies that breed high levels of violence, and cultural endorsement of punitive logic as a substitution for social security and substantive justice.
ISSN:1461-7439
DOI:10.1177/1362480617719450