Judith Lichtenberg

Professor Emerita of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Judith Lichtenberg is professor emerita of philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and author of Distant Strangers: Ethics, Psychology, and Global Poverty (2014). Since 2016, she has taught at Jessup Correctional Institution, a prison in Maryland, and at the District of Columbia Jail in Washington, DC. She is a member of the advisory board of Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Written by Judith Lichtenberg

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How US prisons violate three principles of criminal justice

Judith Lichtenberg

The comments reveal a wide range of justifications for punishment and incarceration. For some of them – in particular rehabilitation, specific deterrence (keeping dangerous people away from others), and to some extent retribution – remorse is a reason to consider reducing an offender’s sentence, not necessarily at the time of conviction, but at least after some decent interval has passed. One commenter notes that this makes sense as long as we have “a perfect, foolproof Remorse-o-Meter” (nice phrase!) but not otherwise. I don’t agree. As I see it, the psychopath would have to succeed in fooling us over a period of years, and this is unlikely. To make absolute certainty the test is to requ...

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