American Evil: A Response to Kleinfeld on Punishment

14 Pages Posted: 25 May 2018

Date Written: May 24, 2018


Joshua Kleinfeld argues that American moral understandings are reflected in its system of criminal justice. Far more than Europeans, Americans regard those who have committed crimes as irretrievably defective people whom it is appropriate to lock away for many years. American law regards even minor and first-time criminals as having an unchangeable disposition of hostility or depraved indifference toward all that is good. This paper argues that under either of these understandings of the term, the American criminal justice system itself is evil.

Keywords: Criminal law, Joshua Kleinfeld, Evil

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Koppelman, Andrew M., American Evil: A Response to Kleinfeld on Punishment (May 24, 2018). 50 Ariz. St. L.J. 179 (2018), Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 18-15, Available at SSRN: or

Andrew M. Koppelman (Contact Author)

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8431 (Phone)

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