Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date



Boston University School of Law




This essay sets out a comprehensive account of rational punishment theory and examines its implications for criminal law reform. Specifically, what offenses should be subjected to criminal punishment, and how should we punish? Should we use prison sentences or fines, and where should we use them? Should some conduct be left to a form of market punishment through private lawsuits? Should fines be used to fund the criminal justice system? The answers I offer address some of the most important public policy issues of the moment, such as mass incarceration and the use of fines to finance law enforcement. The framework of this paper is firmly grounded in rational deterrence policy, and yet points toward reforms that would soften or reduce the scope of criminal punishment.


Published as: "Whom Should We Punish, and How? Rational Incentives and Criminal Justice Reform," 59 William & Mary Law Review 2513 (2018).

2017 Wythe Lecture at William & Mary Law School

Find on SSRN



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.