Legal justice today has at least as much to do with criminals as with crimes.- Foucault
I once wrote about a man on death row who was old, and was physically and mentally infirm, but the state wanted to execute him anyway. (He died of natural causes before that could happen.) Someone angrily wrote to me, “He still did it, so what does it matter how old or sick he is?”
But punishment is unrelated to the crime, always. This is why, as Foucault has pointed out, criminals are expected to explain themselves, rather than simply confirm that they committed the crime. The crime can be judged, but the person can only be judged if they are willing to tell a story - and, since no story is true, what we are judging is the story, a fiction, not the person. In Shakespeare’s Othello, when Iago’s crimes are discovered he refuses to submit to judgment, telling his captors, who are about to torture him, “What you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word.” They are left with only the crimes.
But Stoker didn’t murder anyone, you say? True. But it’s never the crime that’s being punished, only the story.