Gabriel S. Mendlow
In a legal system where criminal prosecution is the institutional analog of moral blame, a state that acts as exclusive prosecutor exceeds its moral standing and incurs a debt to the victim. The nature of this debt and how we might discharge it are the primary subjects of this Essay.
It is an age-old maxim of criminal jurisprudence that the state must never punish people for their mere thoughts—for their beliefs, desires, and unexecuted intentions. Yet its justification is something of a mystery. This Essay argues that each of the prevailing justifications is deficient and propo…