Citations (38)



What Do Alternative Sanctions Mean?

Dan M. Kahan

Yale University - Law School


University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 63, p. 591, 1996

American jurisdictions have traditionally resisted fines and community service as alternatives to imprisonment, notwithstanding strong support for these sanctions among academics and reformers. Why? The answer, this article contends, is that these forms of punishment are expressively inferior to incarceration. The public expects punishment not only to deter crime and to impose deserved suffering, but also to make accurate statements about what the community values. Imprisonment has been and continues to be Americans' punishment of choice for serious offenses because of the resonance of liberty deprivation as a symbol of condemnation in our culture. Fines and community service either don't express condemnation as unambiguously as imprisonment, or express other valuations that Americans reject as false. The article also uses expressive theory to explain why the American public has consistently rejected proposals to restore corporal punishment, a form of discipline that offends egalitarian moral sensibilities; and why the public is now growing increasingly receptive to shaming punishments, which unlike conventional alternative sanctions signal condemnation unambiguously.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 63

Keywords: shame, expressive theory, punishment, shaming sanctions

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Date posted: October 20, 2008 ; Last revised: April 16, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kahan, Dan M., What Do Alternative Sanctions Mean? (1996). University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 63, p. 591, 1996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1286855

Contact Information

Dan M. Kahan (Contact Author)
Yale University - Law School ( email )
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.culturalcognition.net/kahan

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