By James Q. Whitman
Legal punishment in the USA is harsh and degrading--more so than at any place else within the liberal west. Executions and lengthy legal phrases are normal in the US. international locations like France and Germany, in contrast, are systematically gentle. eu offenders are hardly ever despatched to legal, and after they are, they serve some distance shorter phrases than their American opposite numbers. Why is the USA so relatively harsh? during this novel paintings of comparative criminal heritage, James Whitman argues that the reply lies in America's effective embody of a non-hierarchical social method and mistrust of country strength that have contributed to a legislations of punishment that's extra keen to degrade offenders.
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Extra info for Harsh justice: criminal punishment and the widening divide between America and Europe
What historians do not commonly address, though, is the process of change that status-oriented punishment may undergo. We tend to describe traditional societies in static terms. Yet of course they are subject to change, and far-reaching change. As status-hierarchy becomes less stable, punishment practices sometimes begin to shift too, in revealing ways. " When rank-conscious social orders are relatively stable, they typically distinguish carefully between the punishments appropriate for high-status persons and the punishment suitable for their inferiors.
Different forms of mercy speak to different forms of harshness; and we must take real care in distinguishing among those forms. In particular, this book will maintain a careful distinction between no fewer than ten different senses in which we can describe the workings of a given criminal justice system as relatively "mild" or "harsh": five forms of harshness in criminalization, three forms of harshness in punishment, and finally two important forms of mildness. These various forms of harshness correlate with some distinct and peculiar forms of mercy.
Practices like televising the names of the busted clients of prostitutes, or making drunk drivers parade around wearing placards describing their offenses, or leading Wall Street brokers out of their offices in shackles, do not just affect the offenders. They affect the public too, encouraging a kind of glee and viciousness. Most important, they lend themselves to an unsettling politicization of criminal justice, with prosecutors and even judges bidding for public support by broadcasting the names and faces of morals offenders and targets of whitecollar prosecution.
Harsh justice: criminal punishment and the widening divide between America and Europe by James Q. Whitman