Imprisonable Offenses

Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (3), 2006: 265-287

24 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2012 Last revised: 30 Sep 2013

Date Written: 2006


Imprisonment imposes very substantial losses and deprivations on people convicted of crimes. The question for which crimes imprisonment is an appropriate sanction is addressed employing both retributive and crime reduction approaches to the justification of legal punishment. Although there is not complete convergence between what the two approaches imply about its use, it is argued that both would reserve imprisonment for serious offenses, ones that inflict or threaten significant harms with moderate to high levels of culpability. Thus, neither approach supports the current use of imprisonment to sanction a range of lesser offenses.

Keywords: imprisonment, crime reduction, retribution

Suggested Citation

Lippke, Richard, Imprisonable Offenses (2006). Journal of Moral Philosophy 3 (3), 2006: 265-287, Available at SSRN:

Richard Lippke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Department of Criminal Justice
Bloomington, IN
United States
812-856-6049 (Phone)

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