Our reactions to actual crime-disbelief about the act committed, anger at the hurt caused, a desire to get even, and fear for ourselves and our children-arrive in an indecipherable rush of emotion. We perceive strong, intuitive, and sometimes oppositional reactions at once. So it is little wonder that no single traditional moral justification for punishment is satisfactory. Traditional theories, both retributive and utilitarian, are grounded in a priori truths that ignore the convergence of the theoretical, the practical and the emotional that gives rise to the need to punish. In their stead, we should embrace an advertently pragmatic theoretical approach, which recognize the primary need to protect ourselves against danger, but looks as well to providing reformation wherever possible. Such an approach does not ignore the traditional rationales. To eschew retribution entirely is to deny a deeply-rooted moral intuition and forego efforts to tame it. To jettison utility is to condemn the victim and community to perpetual fear; just to the extent that retributive impulses, by any name, undermine necessary forward-looking concerns about our future's safety, they poorly serve our needs, which include service to the victim, the community and the offender.