A Political Theory of Imprisonment for Public Protection

Peter Ramsay

in Retributivism Has a Past

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199798278
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919376 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Philosophy

A Political Theory of Imprisonment for Public Protection

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This chapter describes a theoretical justification for imprisonment for public protection (IPP) that is different from and arguably more politically influential at present than traditional utilitarian justifications for selective incapacitation. The first part of the chapter argues that the IPP regime of preventive detention can be justified in the terms of two theories that derive from traditions that, in the minds of their protagonists at least, are alternatives to liberalism in general and to Hobbes in particular. The two theories that can do the justificatory work for IPP are the Third Way theory of Anthony Giddens and the republican penal theory of John Braithwaite and Philip Pettit. Having established that these theories can provide a normative justification for IPP, the second part of the chapter argues that these justifications are expressions of a wider ideology that is indeed a necessary counterpart of neoliberal economic and social policy. But this ideology nevertheless constructs the relation of security and freedom in a way that is both inconsistent with the foundations of liberal thought and denies to the state the political authority that characterized Hobbes's Leviathan.

Keywords: theoretical justification; prevention detention; Hobbes; Third Way theory; republican penal theory

Chapter.  14130 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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