Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Punishment" reviewed in LSE Book Review blog

The review can be found here. An excerpt:

"[. . .]  Seven theories of punishment are discussed by Brooks, bifurcated in to two sections: general theories, which contains retributivist, deterrence, rehabilitative and restorative justice theories; and the hybrid theories of Rawls, Hart and the mixed theory, expressivism and the unified theory. Following the sections on theories of punishment, in the final part of the book, Brooks sets about applying various theories to four case studies: capital punishment, juvenile offenders, domestic abuse and sexual crimes.

The survey of each of the theories is thorough and accessible, but for Brooks each is inferior to the unified theory of punishment. The first six chapters are set up to allow for only one conclusion: that the unified theory is the one ring of punishment theory, which will bind each of the theories into a broad, irresistible theory.

The unified theory of punishment, as described by Brooks, has its genesis in Hegel and the British Idealists. It aspires to unify ‘multiple penal goals in a single and coherent approach’ (p.126). This unification has a single, primary ground which operates as a foundation only and does not ‘serve as the whole of the punishment itself’ (p.127). This pluralist approach is compelling because it attempts to draw together the benefits of various theories, each of which combats the negative aspects of theories of those with which it is combined. Brooks contends that the adaptability of the unified theory is what sets it apart from other theories and he offers a strong defence in its favour, distinguishing it from the Modern Penal Code.

[. . .]  Punishment is an accessible, engaging and successful précis of key theories of punishment. [. . .]."

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