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Stakeholder Sentencing

Thom Brooks

Durham University

February 11, 2013

Julian V. Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming

Recent years have witnessed increasing interest in how to provide new avenues for incorporating a greater public voice in sentencing. This development is the product of a widely perceived growing crisis concerning the lack of public confidence in sentencing decisions. One important factor is negative media headlines that draw attention to cases that contribute to feeding a culture of sentencing disapproval by the public where punishments are believed to be undeservedly lenient. A second factor is the recognition that victims should have greater involvement in the criminal justice system, including sentencing decisions. But how might we improve public confidence and provide a greater voice for victims without sacrificing criminal justice in favour of mob rule?

These developments concerning the relation of public opinion and punishment raise several fundamental concerns. How much voice, if any, should the public have regarding sentencing decisions? Which institutional frameworks should be constructed to better incorporate public opinion without betraying our support for important penal principles and support for justice?

This chapter accepts the need to improve public confidence about sentencing through improving avenues for the public to posses a greater and better informed voice about sentencing decisions within clear parameters of justice. I will defend the idea of stakeholder sentencing: those who have a stake in penal outcomes should determine how they are decided. This idea supports an extension of restorative justice I will call punitive restoration where the achievement of restoration may include a more punitive element, including imprisonment. My argument is that the idea of stakeholder sentencing offers a compelling view about public opinion might be better incorporated into sentencing that promotes a coherent and unified account of how punishment might pursue multiple penal goals, including improving public confidence in sentencing.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 20

Keywords: Sentencing, Public Opinion, Punishment, Restorative Justice, Punitive Restoration, Prison, Retribution, Unified Theory of Punishment

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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Date posted: February 12, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Thom, Stakeholder Sentencing (February 11, 2013). Julian V. Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2214885

Contact Information

Thom Brooks (Contact Author)
Durham University ( email )
Durham Law School
Durham University
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom
+441913342800 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.dur.ac.uk/law/staff/?mode=staff&id=11140
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