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CHAPTER 11
The Ethics of Punishment
and Corrections
Lecture slides prepared by Lisa J. Taylor
Elements of Punishment
• Two people involved, the punisher and the one being
punished.
• The punisher inflicts harm on the...
Treatment
In correctional terminology, treatment is anything
used to induce behavioral change.
The goals of treatment are:...
Suggested Guidelines
for Punishment
• Protection of individual liberty
• Minimal intrusion in criminals’ lives
• Justifica...
Punishment Rationale
The social contract provides the rationale for
punishment and corrections.
•We avoid social chaos by ...
Correctional Goals
1. Retribution
2. Prevention
• Incapacitation
• Deterrence
• Rehabilitation
• Reform
Can treatment and ...
Punishment and
Corrections
Treatment programs created in the last hundred
years assume that offenders’ criminal activity c...
Retribution: How Much
Punishment?
Bentham: Criminal offenses deserve punishment that balances the
pleasure or profit of th...
Punishment
The Justice Model of punishment:
• Promotes a degree of predictability and equality in sentencing
• Reverts to ...
Prevention
Assumes that something should be done
to the offender to prevent future criminal
activity
Preventive methods in...
Deterrence
Specific Deterrence:
• Preventing a particular offender from deciding to
commit another offense
• Teaching thro...
Incapacitation
Holding an offender until there is no risk of
further crime.
Because incapacitation is predictive:
• We mig...
Three Strikes Laws
• Are these laws justified under retribution,
deterrence, or incapacitation?
• Supreme Court holdings o...
• Three Strikes Laws are statutes enacted
by states in the U.S that mandates state
courts to impose life sentences on
pers...
Treatment
• Treatment is considered beneficial for both society and the
individual offender.
• The control over the indivi...
Ethical Justifications for
Punishment
Utilitarianism: treatment, incapacitation,
deterrence (we punish to benefit the majo...
Punishment
• The American criminal justice system has adopted prison
as a standard form of punishment.
• Imprisonment does...
• $1.27 billion
o Ohio Department of Corrections
total prison budget
• $1.32 billion
o Total state cost of prisons
• $25,8...
Cruel and Unusual
Punishment
Unusual (by frequency): Punishments that are rarely used
become unusual.
Evolving standards o...
• California is one of several states that
mandate chemical or surgical castration
for repeat sexual offenders before bein...
Thinking
Point
In May of 2010, the US Supreme Court
ruled that sentencing a juvenile to life
imprisonment without parole i...
“Shaming” Punishments
Stigmatizing shaming rejects the individual and
may have negative effects.
Reintegrative shaming rej...
• Daniel Mirales and his wife Eloise stole from a
crime victims fund. She was a 16 year employee
of the District Attorney'...
Supermax Prisons
• Prison authorities have long segregated the most
notorious prisoners into special units.
• Today, some ...
Private Corrections
Private prisons are built by a private
corporation, then leased to the state or
actually run by the co...
• A General Accounting Office study found that private and
public institutions cost about the same
• Private corrections t...
Capital Punishment
Public support
1966: 44 percent
late 1990s: 75–80 percent
2008: 63 percent
Who is in favour?
Whites
Fun...
Ethical Justifications
RETENTIONISTS
Utilitarianism: deterrence
Ethical formalism: proportional harm
Religion: “an eye for...
Capital Punishment
Does failure to apply capital punishment
fairly invalidate its use?
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled ag...
• “Fast track” death appeals (OK)
• Lethal injection (OK)
• Execution for rapists (Not OK)
Recent Challenges
Community Corrections
• Most offenders are under some form of
community supervision (probation or parole,
halfway houses, ...
Common across all ethics codes:
• Integrity
• Respect for and protection of individual rights
• Service to the public
• Im...
Correctional Officer
Subculture
• May consider inmates, superiors, and society in
general as “the enemy.”
• Accepts use of...
• Male guards at an Alabama women's
prison have allegedly engaged in the
widespread sexual abuse of female
inmates for yea...
• Cynicism towards clients.
• Lethargy from heavy caseloads and
poor pay.
• Individualism: an officer running his/her
case...
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  1. 1. CHAPTER 11 The Ethics of Punishment and Corrections Lecture slides prepared by Lisa J. Taylor
  2. 2. Elements of Punishment • Two people involved, the punisher and the one being punished. • The punisher inflicts harm on the one being punished. • The punisher is authorized by law to inflict the punishment. • The one being punished has been judged to be in violation of a criminal law. • The inflicted harm is meted out specifically as punishment for that violation of criminal law.
  3. 3. Treatment In correctional terminology, treatment is anything used to induce behavioral change. The goals of treatment are: • elimination of dysfunctional or deviant behavior • encouragement of productive, normal behavior
  4. 4. Suggested Guidelines for Punishment • Protection of individual liberty • Minimal intrusion in criminals’ lives • Justification of each intrusion • Crime should be prevented according to the requirements of justice
  5. 5. Punishment Rationale The social contract provides the rationale for punishment and corrections. •We avoid social chaos by giving the state the power to control us. •The state is limited in the amount of control it can exert over individuals. •For consistency with the social contract, the state should exert its power only to protect. •Any further interventions with civil liberties are warranted.
  6. 6. Correctional Goals 1. Retribution 2. Prevention • Incapacitation • Deterrence • Rehabilitation • Reform Can treatment and punishment occur simultaneously? Can a punishment system in which “just” punishment is relative and changes with time be ethical or moral?
  7. 7. Punishment and Corrections Treatment programs created in the last hundred years assume that offenders’ criminal activity can be reduced by: • treating psychological problems such as sociopathic or paranoid personalities • addressing social problems such as alcoholism or addiction • resolving more practical problems, such as chronic unemployment, with vocational training and job placement
  8. 8. Retribution: How Much Punishment? Bentham: Criminal offenses deserve punishment that balances the pleasure or profit of the offense Neoclassicists: Characteristics of the offender should influence the punishment decision In today’s correctional climate: • Determinate sentencing focuses on the seriousness of the offense • Indeterminate sentencing tailors the sentence to the individual offender Retributivists: Balance is restored when offenders have suffered as much as their victims
  9. 9. Punishment The Justice Model of punishment: • Promotes a degree of predictability and equality in sentencing • Reverts to earlier retributive goals of punishment • Restricts the state’s use of treatment as a release criterion The Just Deserts Model of punishment: • Bases punishment on “commensurate deserts” • Incorporates incapacitation • Equally punishes offenders who commit similar crimes
  10. 10. Prevention Assumes that something should be done to the offender to prevent future criminal activity Preventive methods include: •Deterrence •Incapacitation •Treatment
  11. 11. Deterrence Specific Deterrence: • Preventing a particular offender from deciding to commit another offense • Teaching through punishment General Deterrence: • Prevent others in general from deciding to engage in wrongful behavior • Teaching by example
  12. 12. Incapacitation Holding an offender until there is no risk of further crime. Because incapacitation is predictive: • We might release an offender who commits further crimes. • We might not release an offender who would not commit further crimes.
  13. 13. Three Strikes Laws • Are these laws justified under retribution, deterrence, or incapacitation? • Supreme Court holdings of Lockyer v. Andrade and Ewing v. California.
  14. 14. • Three Strikes Laws are statutes enacted by states in the U.S that mandates state courts to impose life sentences on persons convicted of three or more serious criminal offenses. • Usually, only felony crimes qualify as serious offenses and typically the defendant is given the possibility of parole with their life sentence. • Three Strikes Laws became very popular in the 1990s. • Twenty-four states have some form of habitual offender laws. • The name comes from baseball, where a batter is permitted two strikes before striking out on the third. Three Strikes Laws
  15. 15. Treatment • Treatment is considered beneficial for both society and the individual offender. • The control over the individual is just as great as with punishment. • Courts define treatment as “that which constitutes accepted and standard practice and which could reasonably result in a ‘cure.’” • Much of the treatment in the correctional environment is either implicitly or directly coerced. • No single program works for all offenders.
  16. 16. Ethical Justifications for Punishment Utilitarianism: treatment, incapacitation, deterrence (we punish to benefit the majority) Ethical formalism: retribution (we punish because the offender deserves it) Ethics of care: restorative justice (we punish only if it is necessary to meet the needs of all involved)
  17. 17. Punishment • The American criminal justice system has adopted prison as a standard form of punishment. • Imprisonment does not carry the physical pains of flogging or mutilation. • Imprisonment is painful because it involves: o banishment, o condemnation, o separation from loved ones, o deprivation of freedom, and o an assault on one's self-esteem. • Prisons are extremely expensive.
  18. 18. • $1.27 billion o Ohio Department of Corrections total prison budget • $1.32 billion o Total state cost of prisons • $25,814 o Average annual cost per inmate Facts Regarding Costs Of Prisons in the State of Ohio
  19. 19. Cruel and Unusual Punishment Unusual (by frequency): Punishments that are rarely used become unusual. Evolving standards of decency: Punishments acceptable in the past (flogging) may not be acceptable today. Shock the conscience: A punishment is cruel and unusual if it shocks the public conscience. Excessive or disproportionate: Any punishment that is disproportionately administered or excessive to its purpose is considered wrong. Unnecessary: The purpose of punishment is to deter crime; only an amount necessary to do so should be administered.
  20. 20. • California is one of several states that mandate chemical or surgical castration for repeat sexual offenders before being released from prison. • Texas was the first state to offer castration to repeat offenders on a voluntary basis. • Repeat offenders in other states, including Illinois, Ohio and Arkansas, have either requested or received the surgery as a way to bargain for a reduced sentence. • Surgical castration is the most severe and controversial. • Not everyone — including leading medical experts — is even convinced that castration is effective. Castration as a Deterrent
  21. 21. Thinking Point In May of 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled that sentencing a juvenile to life imprisonment without parole is considered cruel and unusual punishment when the crime is not murder. Until the Graham v. Florida ruling, judges around the country could sentence anyone under the age of 18 to life in prison for crimes such as aggravated robbery, rape, and murder. Did the Supreme Court make the right decision? Why?
  22. 22. “Shaming” Punishments Stigmatizing shaming rejects the individual and may have negative effects. Reintegrative shaming rejects only the person's behavior, thus creating a healthier relationship between the individual and his or her community.
  23. 23. • Daniel Mirales and his wife Eloise stole from a crime victims fund. She was a 16 year employee of the District Attorney's office. • Both Mirales’ must walk back and forth holding a sign that reads, “I am a thief. I stole $250,000 from the Harris County crime victim's fund." • They must do this for 5 hours every weekend for 6 years. Additionally, they must spend some time in jail and/or prison. • They must post a sign in front of their home that says, "The occupants of this residence, Daniel and Eloise Mirales, are convicted thieves." • They also have to do 400 and 600 hours of community service: pick up trash, clean graffiti, or wire homes for Habitat Humanity. • They also must pay $232K in restitution. Judge Imposes Six Years of Shaming Punishment (2010)
  24. 24. Supermax Prisons • Prison authorities have long segregated the most notorious prisoners into special units. • Today, some states have constructed the most secure facilities, referred to as supermax prisons. • Supermax conditions are extremely harsh, including individual separation of all inmates around the clock and limited recreational activity. • Challenges due to conditions, procedures, and who is sent there (non-violent, mentally ill).
  25. 25. Private Corrections Private prisons are built by a private corporation, then leased to the state or actually run by the corporation, which bills the state for the service. What ethical issues do you think arise with the privatization of prisons?
  26. 26. • A General Accounting Office study found that private and public institutions cost about the same • Private corrections tend to pay lower salaries than state corrections departments • Officers often transfer to state corrections departments after they are trained • Turnover is high in both private and state corrections Where is incentive to rehabilitate? Evaluating Private Corrections
  27. 27. Capital Punishment Public support 1966: 44 percent late 1990s: 75–80 percent 2008: 63 percent Who is in favour? Whites Fundamentalist Protestants Politically conservative Men
  28. 28. Ethical Justifications RETENTIONISTS Utilitarianism: deterrence Ethical formalism: proportional harm Religion: “an eye for an eye”
  29. 29. Capital Punishment Does failure to apply capital punishment fairly invalidate its use? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against executing: • the mentally ill • the mentally handicapped • juveniles (under 18)
  30. 30. • “Fast track” death appeals (OK) • Lethal injection (OK) • Execution for rapists (Not OK) Recent Challenges
  31. 31. Community Corrections • Most offenders are under some form of community supervision (probation or parole, halfway houses, work release centers, intermediate sanctions, or community-based correctional facilities (CBCF’s). • Community supervision poses different ethical challenges than institutional corrections.
  32. 32. Common across all ethics codes: • Integrity • Respect for and protection of individual rights • Service to the public • Importance and sanctity of the law • Prohibition against exploiting professional authority for personal gain Formal Ethics for Correctional Professionals
  33. 33. Correctional Officer Subculture • May consider inmates, superiors, and society in general as “the enemy.” • Accepts use of force as a routine job element. • Shows a tendency to redefine job roles to meet minimum requirements only. • Shows a willingness to use deceit to cover up wrongdoing by staff.
  34. 34. • Male guards at an Alabama women's prison have allegedly engaged in the widespread sexual abuse of female inmates for years. • The Justice Department was asked to investigate alleged incidents occurring between 2009 and 2011 at the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. • Joe A. Martinez, 48, was indicted by a federal grand jury and accused of sexually abusing two female inmates in 2008 and 2010 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix, Arizona. Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Correctional Officers (2012)
  35. 35. • Cynicism towards clients. • Lethargy from heavy caseloads and poor pay. • Individualism: an officer running his/her caseload in the manner he/she sees fit. Subcultural Norms
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