Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The basic premise of American criminal jurisprudence is that individuals are capable of controlling their behavior.' The threat of incarceration is intended to be a deterrent to antisocial conduct. State and federal penal systems are called "correctional institutions"--implying that a person is incarcerated in order to modify unacceptable behavior. Criminal laws are drafted with goals of discouraging antisocial conduct,punishing and reforming the guilty, and protecting society against dangerous individuals. The first two purposes are served only if a person can respond to negative reinforcement by conducting himself in socially acceptable ways. Individuals incapable of controlling antisocial behavior are not accounted for in these criminal-law concepts.