Isaac Chotiner responds to Atul Gawande:
Gawande never considers the idea of punishment as an end in itself, and it is here, I think, where liberal writers tend to miss a major motiviating factor in our crime policy. There are numerous historical and religious reasons for this belief, and without getting bogged down in too many details, it is worth pointing out that many people believe wrongdoers “deserve” punishment for bad deeds. Others like, I would assume, Gawande, see no value in punishing people unless it serves distinct ends (keeping criminals off the street, deterring crime, etc.). Now, I happen to agree with Gawande, and I see no value in punishment for punishment’s sake, but it is probably safe to say this is not a majority opinion in America. It also might help explain the sad state of our criminal justice system and prisons.
Ross responds here.