CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brooks on Stakeholder Sentencing

Brooks thomThom Brooks (Durham University) has posted Stakeholder Sentencing (Julian V. Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

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.

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