STUDIES IN LAW, POLITICS, AND SOCIETY, SPECIAL VOLUME - TOWARD A CRITIQUE OF GUILT: PERSPECTIVES FROM LAW AND THE HUMANITIES, Vol. 36, Matthew Anderson, special volume ed., Austin Sarat, ed., Elsevier, 2005
20 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2007
Why do we give a "remorse-discount" in criminal sentencing? This essay argues that traditional theories of punishment do not adequately account for the remorse-discount. The essay then takes a closer look at the nature of remorse, arguing that remorse is the eternal return of guilt for a crime, or a kind of life sentence. As such, it lacks the proportionality of retributive punishment and calls for sanction, in the sense of purification and reunification. The essay concludes that we do not look to remorse in order to mitigate the sentence, but sentence in order to mitigate the remorse.
Keywords: criminal sentencing, remorse, guilt, mitigation, grace, clemency, pardon, sanction, atonement, reunification, punishment, retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation
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