According to Kant, following theprinciple of equality is not to treat an offender as a means but to respect himas an end. It is to respect reason and autonomy of the offender and to ask hisresponsibility of his action. Kant’s retributive justice embraces thecore principle of the lex talionis,the principle of equality between crime and punishment. his principleemphasizes the balance between criminal activity and punishment as a criterionfor determining the quality and quantity of punishment. It is true that Kant thinks of the lextalionis as being an exact, precise standard that ideally at least allowszero tolerance. Punishment according to the proper standard of the categoricalimperative should be neither too little nor too much.
The failure to carry outappropriate punishment is a violation of a duty tooneself, which would reflect a lack of inner integrity or self-respect. To failto punish to the proper degree is to fail to have an adequate hatred ofcriminal conduct; such an idea, which seems implicit in Kant, brings him closeto being an exponent of the expression theory. Kant thinksthat punishment cannot be less than the lextalionis requires, perhaps because such a punishment would reflect a lackof equal respect for the crime victim, and also a lack of adequate hatred ofthe wrongdoing being punished. InKant’s use of this principle, a new emphasis is on only criminal behavior.
Hesees it as a way to respect criminals,and calls for the execution of a proportional punishment as a moral law,taking into account only criminal activity.