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MetamorphosisHow to Transform Punishment in America$
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Robert A. Ferguson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780300230833

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300230833.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 25 February 2020

Do Americans Like to Punish?

Do Americans Like to Punish?

(p.30) 2 Do Americans Like to Punish?

Robert A. Ferguson

Yale University Press

This chapter addresses the question of whether Americans like to punish. The United States clearly punishes more heavily and for longer periods than other countries, with comparable social and political values. One can land in an American prison for life over minor offenses—a punishment not used for serious offenses in Western Europe. The leading comparativist on criminology, James Whitman, argues that a politics of dignity has instilled mercy and mildness in European systems, while leveling impulses, distrust of authority, and too much power in the people is said to have left the United States with a criminal justice system long in degradation and short on mercy.

Keywords:   punishment, political values, American prison, minor offenses, James Whitman, European systems, mercy, criminal justice system

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