Good Law | Bad Law #113 - Why Do we Punish and How? w/ Jonathan Jacobs

What are the moral implications of a broken prison system?

Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast, Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Jonathan Jacobs, the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, to talk about the prison systems in America.

On today’s episode Aaron and Jonathan closely examine the impact the prison system has on people in our society and how we, as a society, view people who have been to prison. As
Jonathan explains, prison is intended to be punishment; one is sent to prison as punishment for a crime. But more and more we expect prison not only to be a punishment in and of itself, but also a place where inmates are actually punished, through deprivation, through poor conditions, through lack of opportunity. In addition, society inflicts further punishment even long after an individual’s release from prison, by making it difficult for a person to find employment, denying ex-cons the right to vote, and so on.

As Dr. Phil might say, “How is this working for us?” Or, as Jonathan asks, as a matter of moral and ethical responsibility, are we how well does our practice meet our goals for those who undergo punishment for crimes in our country?

This is a fascinating discussion about the moral and philosophical implications of a prison
system that is being eroded by the same democracy that created it. To learn more about
Jonathan and his work visit

Host: Aaron Freiwald
Guest: Jonathan Jacobs