Explore BrainMass

Explore BrainMass

    Just Desert

    This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

    Discus the arguments in favor of and arguments against just desert.

    © BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 9, 2019, 9:02 pm ad1c9bdddf

    Solution Preview

    Interesting theory!

    Let's take a closer at the arguments for and against just desert, which you can draw on for your final copy. I also attached three articles to consider. Briefly, the first article looks at the arguments against just desert. The second article is an argument against the death penalty, and applies the just desert model to the death penalty for murder. Third, Simons (2000) explains the just desert theory in comparison to other theories of crime, and makes a case for the just desert model. It is a retributive theory, as opposed to utilitarian, consequentialist, deterrence-oriented theories. I also attached an excellent APA resource.

    1. Discuss the arguments in favor of and arguments against just desert. Summarize the paper by stating your opinion on just desert. Include at least three citations and references supporting your opinion, and follow APA guidelines.

    When you write up your final copy, like all academic papers, it will include an Introduction (thesis or purpose statement), Body (present both sides of the argument) and Conclusion (summarize which one makes most most sense to you).

    There are different theories used in justifying prisons and punishment; most arguments center on what works.
    Specifically, Pojman and Reiman (1999) discuss three theories of punishment: (1) retributive theories (includes the just desert model), which assess the nature of the offense and make punishment dependent on what is deserved; (2) utilitarian theories, focusing on deterrence and prevention; (3) rehabilitative theories, which treat crime as a disease and the offender as a sick person who needs to be cured.

    Law-and-order conservatives contend prisons deter; liberals argue they rehabilitate. Both have contributed to the huge prison-building boom, the population doubling in the last 10 years. These arguments are utilitarian, that is, what best serves the social goals of society. In contrast, the just desert theory argues that an offender is punished because he deserves it. This is what C. S. Lewis, in his brilliant essay The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, called "just deserts" (Colson, 2008).

    The just desert model is a retribution theory of crime. Specifically, the just desert model suggests that retribution justifies punishment because people deserve what they get for past deeds. Punishment based on deterrence or incapacitation is wrong from this stance because it involves an offender's future actions, which cannot accurately be predicted. Punishment should be the same for all people who commit the same crime. Criminal sentences based on individual needs or characteristics are inherently unfair because all people are equally blameworthy for their misdeeds.


    Simons (2000) makes a compelling argument for just desert presenting three fairly solid arguments. First, the theory is fair to the offender (punishment fits the crime; same punishment of all offenders for the same crime, etc.). The model does not allow punishment of the innocent in order to serve a large social good (utilitarian theory). It does not permit selecting an offender for extremely harsh punishment by lottery, even if this would expend fewer overall social resources than imposing lower and proportionate punishment on all similar offenders (consequentialist theory). More ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution explores the main arguments in favor of and against 'just desert' and includes supplementary information on the just desert theory.