Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Room For Improvement

Megan McArdle has a piece on how to punish a mother who left a gun around and had her daughter shoot herself.  McArdle asks under what theory should the mother be punished--she's already been punished enough.

Fine, but then we get this sentence: "Punishment should be enough to deter, to punish, and in the case of incorrigibles, to rehabilitate. "

Okay, it's a blog, and we don't hold it to the highest standards.  But Megan, by definition, incorrigibles can't be rehabilitated.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there are two other theories of criminal penalties.
She left out incapacitation and retribution (or is that covered by punishment?).

Did she mean "except for" incorrigibles or did she mean persistent offenders (on the theory that one-timers haven't yet got to a state where they need to be rehabilitated?

9:30 AM, June 26, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

There are a number of theories for why we punish, and she mentions more than just what I excerpted. She has a point that we can get too used to punishing and start doing it for punishment's sake.

I don't see how you can read her sentence (about sentences) to mean anything but we should try to rehabilitate incorrigibles. Of course, she's using the word in the sense of people who are really bad and won't easily be deterred from crime, but it was an odd usage since the word literally means people who can't be corrected.

3:53 PM, June 26, 2013  

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