Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide between America and Europe

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Oxford University Press, Apr 14, 2005 - Social Science - 336 pages
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Criminal punishment in America is harsh and degrading--more so than anywhere else in the liberal west. Executions and long prison terms are commonplace in America. Countries like France and Germany, by contrast, are systematically mild. European offenders are rarely sent to prison, and when they are, they serve far shorter terms than their American counterparts. Why is America so comparatively harsh? In this novel work of comparative legal history, James Whitman argues that the answer lies in America's triumphant embrace of a non-hierarchical social system and distrust of state power which have contributed to a law of punishment that is more willing to degrade offenders.
 

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Harsh justice: criminal punishment and the widening divide between America and Europe

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Whitman (law, Yale) decries the increasingly cruel, inhumane, and degrading forms of criminal punishment growing in popularity and use in our society. He chronicles how this development began with ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
3
1 Degradation Harshness and Mercy
19
Rejecting Respect for Persons
41
3 Continental Dignity and Mildness
69
4 The Continental Abolition of Degradation
97
5 Low Status in the AngloAmerican World
151
Two Revolutions of Status
191
Notes
209
Bibliography
273
Index
301
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About the author (2005)

James Q. Whitman is Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale University. He has taught at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools and was trained as a historian at the University of Chicago before taking his law degree at Yale.

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