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date: 19 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay reviews the role that remorse does and ought to play in criminal justice. Evidence of remorse appears to influence decision-making in a number of stages of the criminal process. But should it? Remorse might have an appropriate role given certain assumptions about the general justifying aim of criminal justice. The chapter also looks at the nature of remorse as an emotion, and how different conceptions of the emotions can inform our understanding of the role remorse might play. There are serious challenges that face any proposal to give criminal justice officials powers to evaluate remorsefulness and to treat offenders differently on that basis. The chapter concludes that it may be the best we can do is to attempt to design a system that acknowledges the appropriateness of remorse but does not disadvantage those who are unable to display it to the satisfaction of a designated official.

Keywords: remorse, criminal justice, sentencing, mitigation, emotion, punishment

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