Frameworks for punishment
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Frameworks for punishment book
The ‘retributive emotion’, the feeling that the guilty deserves to suffer, plays a major role in the design of penal policies. Through populism and media-driven moral panics, this emotion has been systematically employed to support the harsh treatment of prison inmates. This chapter highlights how the retributive emotion, although legitimate, may lead to policies that conflict with the very principles grounding the criminal justice system. Chief among these principle is a commitment to treating citizens, offenders included, as autonomous agents. Penal policies must be inclusive, rather than exclusive, and address the offender with the respect due to his status as autonomous. After outlining the main tenets of Antony Duff's communicative theory of punishment, which stresses the need to treat the offender also as a subject, not a mere object, the chapter concludes by flagging some necessary policy changes, including the practice of felon disenfranchisement.