Recent Work on Punishment and Criminogenic Disadvantage
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In the 1970s and 1980s, a handful of legal theorists addressed the problem of criminal justice for offenders who faced criminogenic social disadvantages. Their discussions were provocative but alternatively unpersuasive and underdeveloped. More recently, in the wake of mass incarceration in America, philosophers have put forth new analyses that make important headway but remain scattered, partial, and in need of a systematic and integrated review. In this article, I reconstruct and critique the most prominent and well-developed explanations yet offered of the distinctive moral problems that offenders’ criminogenic social disadvantages may pose for criminal justice. I conclude that some views are misguided, others are unduly limited, and one – based on the ideals of fair opportunity to avoid crime and punishment – is particularly promising but as yet underdeveloped.
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