"The debate over criminal-justice policy often seems to take place between the disciples of Michel Foucault and the disciples of the Marquis de Sade, with the Foucauldians winning the academic debate even as the sadists mostly get their way in the real political world. The resulting policies manage to combine enormous cruelty with unsatisfactory crime-control results: The United States leads the developed world in both homicide and incarceration, and both of those evils land most heavily on poor African Americans.
"We can and should do better. But 'doing better' doesn’t mean simply focusing on social services and systemic reforms and ignoring the need for punishment. It means using punishment intelligently, which means using it as sparingly as possible but also as much as necessary. As Machiavelli warned his fellow opponents of tyranny, a reluctance to punish comes naturally with good-heartedness, but those unable to overcome that reluctance are as unfit to rule as those who have no such reluctance to begin with."