Criminal Law and Philosophy

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 619–631 | Cite as

Is Coercive Treatment of Offenders Morally Acceptable? On the Deficiency of the Debate

  • Jesper Ryberg
Original Paper


Is it morally acceptable to instigate criminal offenders to participate in rehabilitative treatment by offering treatment in return for early release from prison? Some theorists have supported such treatment schemes by pointing to the beneficial consequences that follow from the treatment. Others have suggested that the schemes are unacceptably coercive, which implies that consent becomes an illusion. This paper argues that the discussion—with clear parallels to debates of other healthcare treatment offers in medical ethics—has adopted a too narrow focus. By failing to consider the question as a penal theoretical problem, the arguments—both by proponents and critics of coercive treatment—become premature.


Coercion Criminal offenders Punishment Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

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