UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Punishment and Precious Emotions : A Hope Standard for Punishment Brownlee, Kimberley, 1978-


Each year, hundreds of people in high-income countries take their own lives while they are in prison. Thousands engage in self-harm and thousands abuse other prisoners. Such behaviours often correlate with mental health problems, but they are also often pleas for help and for hope. Some courts have invoked the ideas of hope and the right to hope in the context of life imprisonment, but they have neither subjected the concept of hope to sustained analysis nor specified the role that hope should play in our practices of lawful punishment overall. This article offers a preliminary investigation of the role for hope in lawful punishment. It argues that one standard that both individual modes of punishment and overall systems of punishment must meet to be morally justifiable is that they be compatible with a reasonable person retaining hope both in the present and for his future after punishment. Such a hope standard narrows the scope of legitimate modes of punishment.

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