About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

32 Crim. Just. Ethics 1 (2013)
Punishment, Contempt, and the Prospect of Moral Reform

handle is hein.journals/crimjeth32 and id is 5 raw text is: Criminal Justice Ethics, 2013
Vol. 32, No. 1, 1- 18, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0731129X.2013.777250

I Routledge
Taylor &rancis Group

Punishment, Contempt, and the
Prospect of Moral Reform
This paper objects to certain forms of punishments, such as supermax confinement, on grounds
that they are inappropriately contemptuous. Building on discussions in Kant and elsewhere, I
flesh out what I take to be salient features of contempt,features that make contempt especially
troubling as a form of moral regard and treatment. As problematic as contempt may be in the
interpersonal context, I contend that it is especially troubling when a person is treated
contemptuously by her political community's institutions-such as by certain forms of
punishment. Punishment is contemptuous if it fails to respect offenders as moral persons, who
as such are always capable of moral reform. Respect for offenders therefore requires, at least,
that punishment not tend to undermine the prospect of offenders' reform. I flesh out this
constraint by considering various ways in which punishments may tend to undermine
offenders' reform. In particular, Idiscuss ways in which supermax confinement tends to violate
the reform-based constraint. Finally, I address several potential objections to my account.
Keywords: Punishment, contempt, moral reform
It's pretty much like not living. You're locked in a cell twenty-three hours a day... That's it.
Sit in the house, watch TV, listen to the radio if you have those ... It's boredom, a real intense
boredom. No outside air ... you can't see out the windows. They don't treat you bad, but it's
just that everything is so impersonal. It's like dealing with automatons.
(Anonymous supermax inmate, Washington State')


Supermaximum-security units, or
supermaxes, are prison facilities de-
signed to house inmates considered
*Zachary Hoskins is a Research Fellow at
the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and
Criminal Justice, University of Minnesota,
USA. Email: zhoskins@umn.edu

especially dangerous apart from the
general prison population. Prisoners
in supermaxes typically spend all but
one or two hours each day alone in
their cells, many of which have
frosted windows, or no windows at
all, to prevent prisoners from seeing
out. Fluorescent lights that never

() 2013 John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most