I’ve been thinking a little about prior restraint. That lead to thinking about different kinds of crime and punishment.
It seems that there are actually two kinds of crime/punishment schemes.
The first relates to crimes society wants to prevent. The punishment has to prevent the crime by making the trade-off between the benefit of committing the crime and the punishment become negative, so the crime never happens.
The other relates to crimes that society actually does want people to commit. These are things like civil disobedience. Here the punishment has to be severe enough to prevent casual offenders, but to allow the possibility of the crime when the offender feels so strongly about their action that it outweighs the punishment. Racial integration in the 1960’s in the United states is a good example of people intentionally breaking laws they felt were unjust, so much so that they were willing to go to jail.
So when we look at someone who breaks a law in this second category, we should ask whether they are actually doing society a favor by committing a crime and accepting the punishment.