Now if I started kicking people in the stomach to reform them, I’d quickly myself be indicted for assault. In a sense, then, rehabilitation and condemnation are in the hands of God, and if no one is actually condemned, then condemnation is a vacuous theory of punishment at that.

But a judge, in pronouncing a sentence, can take into account moral reformation. Any repentance must accompanied by penance. If a person repents of his ways, then a part of the punishment has already been administered internally; for example, the criminal’s conscience is tormenting him. Therefore, external punishment, like time in prison, can be reduced.

Putting it all together, C.S. Lewis insists that the criminal be given what he “deserves.” But what does he deserve? It is precisely the wise judge who, upon taking into account all 4 theories of punishment, can deliver a deserving sentence. Retribution is only one of these four.


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