Hearing the voices of victims and offenders: the role of emotions in criminal sentencing

Doak, Jonathan and Taylor, Louise (2013). Hearing the voices of victims and offenders: the role of emotions in criminal sentencing. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 64(1) pp. 25–46.

URL: https://nilq.qub.ac.uk/index.php/nilq/article/view...

Abstract

Sentencing is widely viewed as an objective and scientific exercise, whilst emotions have long been regarded as a danger to the rationality of the legal realm. For that reason, emotions have traditionally been kept at arm’s length from the sentencing exercise. However, the last two decades have witnessed something of an ‘emotionalisation’ of law and criminal justice. It is now widely contended that emotions may enrich our justice system through bolstering therapeutic jurisprudence, procedural justice, through the quality of decision-making and may even transform relationships between victims and offenders. A number of mechanisms have been developed in recent years which provide victims and offenders with limited means to express their emotions to the court and these may be taken into account as part of the sentencing exercise. Whilst these developments are broadly welcomed, the authors question the overall capacity of criminal courts rooted in a retributive tradition to enrich justice through a better understanding of human emotions.

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