Crime and disease

“If criminals are to be treated as sick people, the downside of this is that the sick must be ‘nursed’ in the manner of criminals. If the state has no other right to act against criminals than thereby to protect itself and to improve them, on what grounds then will it be denied the right to deal with all kinds of sick people on its own authority and by its own methods, to view the religious and moral convictions on which it cannot agree as so many diseases, remnants and aftereffects of an earlier state, and to take charge of the entire upbringing of its citizens and the whole culture of the society in question? Those who wipe out the boundaries between crime and disease let a state grounded in principles of justice decline into a state based on cultural mores, violate freedom in the life of the people, and hand all its citizens over to the arbitrariness and omnipotence of the state.” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 3.166)

Readers should also consult C. S. Lewis, “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment,” in God in the Dock: Essays in Theology and Ethics.

Category: Of Cabbages and Kings Comment »

Comments are closed.

Back to top