Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
The premises of "just deserts" are the punishment should be equal and commensurate with the crime, ie: "an eye for an eye"
If I were to write a paper on this subject I would apply the theory as it relates to the sentence for different crimes and whether they were just or not. There have been numerous discussions about "truth in sentencing" and "minimum mandatory sentences". These arguments came about because of the disparity in sentencing from judge to judge in local, state and federal courts.
I attached below an excerpt from a US Supreme Court case that talks about just deserts for a murder case and how a death penalty should not be handed down to a mental retarded individual even thought murder is murder. In it they look at his culpability. Below that is a link I provided which is from Cornell University law school and it included the full test of the case.
DARYL RENARD ATKINS, PETITIONER v. VIRGINIA
With respect to retribution-the interest in seeing that the offender gets his "just deserts"-the severity of the appropriate punishment necessarily depends on the culpability of the offender. Since Gregg, our jurisprudence has consistently confined the imposition of the death penalty to a narrow category of the most serious crimes. For example, in Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U.S. 420 (1980), we set aside a death sentence because the petitioner's crimes did not reflect "a consciousness materially more ‘depraved' than that of any person guilty of murder." Id., at 433. If the culpability of the average murderer is insufficient to justify the most extreme sanction available to the State, the lesser culpability of the mentally retarded offender surely does not merit that form of retribution. Thus, pursuant to our narrowing jurisprudence, which seeks to ensure that only the most deserving of execution are put to death, an exclusion for the mentally retarded is appropriate.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA
[June 20, 2002]
I hope this answers your question.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).