chapter  5
The Poverty of the Justice Model: The Corruption of Benevolence Revisited?
Pages 30

However, if Sellin is correct in his observation-and there is little contradictory evidence

to be found in historical records-then we must immediately question whether the justice model itself may not constitute yet another “beautiful theory” that stands to be corrupted

in fundamental ways and hence engender practices that are perhaps “uglier” than those

presently in existence. While “the concerns and caution stimulated by penal rehabilitationism” should not be forgotten, Francis Allen has recently warned that “alternative theories of

penal justice-retributive, deterrent, those of social defense-likewise contain potentialities for debasement and serious abuse.”2 In this light, it is significant that a revisionist move-

ment of growing strength has emerged on the left that is debating the wisdom of liberals

embracing the philosophy of deserts and determinacy as a means of achieving the traditional liberal correctional goals of justice and humanity.3 The message being conveyed is

that the liberals’ call for a “justice model” promises neither to mitigate the injustices

burdening the politically excluded and economically disadvantaged nor to lessen the victimization of society’s captives. If implemented, the model will facilitate a program of sentenc-

ing and penal “reform” that in its pragmatics is distinctly conservative and oriented toward

the introduction of more stringent crime control measures. The latter portion of this book is devoted to a consideration of the danger of explicitly

rejecting rehabilitation and instead affirming punishment as the exclusive, legitimate justifi-

cation for state legal control. Consistent with the stance of liberals who are opposing their brethren’s justice model, we will endeavor to demonstrate that a criminal justice system

rooted in retributive principles will be neither more just, more humane, nor more efficient

than a system that, at least ideologically, had offender reform as its goal. This will lead us

to the conclusion that despite its disadvantages, rehabilitation should not be so readily cast aside but rather reaffirmed. In the next chapter, an analysis is undertaken of the wave of

determinate sentencing legislation that has emerged in recent times and of the specific pro-

blems that these codes are or are not likely to engender. In contrast, the current chapter presents a more general discussion of how the benevolent intentions of the proponents of

the justice model risk being corrupted should the agenda of deserts and determinacy guide

correctional policy and practice in the coming generation.