Criminal Punishment Seminar

Credit Hours: 2

Typical first courses in Criminal Law course look at the practice of punishment only briefly. This seminar is an opportunity to delve more deeply into the subject. How we justify the punishment of wrongdoing, and what aims we have for punishing, are the primary questions to be considered. The course will examine retributivist versus utilitarian schemes of justification, the objectives of promoting social cohesion, public safety and voluntary cooperation with established behavioral norms. Specific topics for discussion will include the rational actor assumption in the model of deterrence, the supposed mechanics of general deterrence, “the limits of the criminal sanction,” the promise and performance of rehabilitation, alternatives to punishment considered in light of punishment’s announced goals, and various other specific topics. Each class meeting will discuss one or two subjects as provided in the syllabus in light of assigned readings, and each student will prepare and present a paper of 20 to 30 pages on an approved topic.