Multiple Offenders and the Question of Desert
Sentencing Multiple Crimes (Jesper Ryberg, Julian V. Roberts & Jan W. de Keijser eds., 2017)
39 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2017 Last revised: 17 Dec 2018
Date Written: October 31, 2017
This essay, published as a chapter in Sentencing Multiple Crimes (Jesper Ryberg, Julian V. Roberts & Jan W. de Keijser eds., 2017) examines the bulk-discount approach to sentencing multiple offenders. It argues that bulk discounts are not only appropriate and even mandatory from the just deserts perspective, but that as a general matter, there should be a substantial reduction in sentence for each additional offense when it comes to multiple-offense sentencing. After providing specific examples of multiple offenders who were sentenced consecutively, the chapter discusses the relationship between culpability and character from the perspective of just deserts theory or retributivism. It then advances the claim that sentences for multiple offenders should not reach the level at which the state would be communicating an unfairly and inappropriately harsh assessment of the character of each multiple offender. It also considers the ways in which multiple offenders are more culpable than single-crime offenders and concludes by insisting that discounts for multiple offenders and premiums for repeat offenders are not inconsistent.
Keywords: bulk discount, multiple offenders, just deserts theory, multiple-offense sentencing, culpability, character, retributivism, single-crime offenders, repeat offenders
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