Legal punishment has been subject to cacophonous debate and transformation throughout the history of American political and philosophical discourse. As a growing body of academic literature indicates a failure in the punitive techniques practiced by American institutions, the necessity for a precise diagnosis of such ailments paired with a new model addressing American concerns for reform remains increasingly pertinent. With due consideration to the previous recommendations of scholars, this paper illustrates the crisis in criminal justice currently felt in the United States. Through statistical, theoretical, and comparative analyses, existing alternatives are examined and an alternative fit to serve the United States’ social and political needs is sought. This paper seeks to connect past and present pitfalls with paradigmatic flaws afflicting the theoretical underpinnings of American criminal justice. Ultimately, a new set of principles is formed, providing renewed guidance for a more effective and just approach personalized to the American system’s prevailing disparities. Pragmatic models are illustrated, and policy strategies are made accordingly. Given the results of the examinations herein, the conclusion is met: upend the current paradigmatic requirements and reimagine the American philosophy of punishment or continue to see measures intending comprehensive reform fail.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 11-28-2022


Michael W. Austin

Mentor Department Affiliation

History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies