Tocqueville’s Moderation and Lieber’s Idealism in Penal Reform

  • Emily Katherine Ferkaluk
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)


Upon returning to France from their famed journey to explore American prisons, Tocqueville and Beaumont asked Francis Lieber to translate their official penal report and publish it in America. Ferkaluk contends that Lieber’s penal thought, evident through his changes to On the Penitentiary System during translation, offers us an alternative to Tocqueville’s moderate pursuit of penal reform. Following Lieber’s own indications of how to use and understand his translation alterations leads us to see that his footnotes and appendices reflect a theoretical disagreement with Tocqueville and Beaumont on the purpose of penitentiary systems. Specifically, Lieber disagrees with Tocqueville and Beaumont on the merits of centralization when establishing penitentiaries, the role of institutions such as penitentiaries in the process of historical development, and the effectiveness of education to morally reform individuals within penitentiaries.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Katherine Ferkaluk
    • 1
  1. 1.Cedarville UniversityCedarvilleUSA

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