Here I set the stage for developing a Kantian account of punishment attuned to social and economic injustice and to the need for prison reform. I argue that we cannot appreciate Kant's own discussion of punishment unless we read it in light of the theory of justice of which it is a part and the fundamental commitments of that theory to freedom, autonomy and equality. As important, we cannot properly evaluate Kant's advocacy of the law of retribution unless we recognize his theory of justice as an ideal theory. Once we understand both Kant's larger account of justice and its relationship to his less basic commitments, we discover grounds to accept that larger theory, but reject components like the law of retribution with their basis in empirical conclusions we may not share with Kant. We also open the way to develop an account of punishment responsive to social circumstances.