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April 4, 2005

Fascinating Debate Club from Legal Affairs this week

Last fall, around the time Booker was to be argued before the Supreme Court, the fine folks at Legal Affairs were kind enough to invite me to participate with Professor Stephanos Bibas in their Debate Club focused on the question "Can the Court clean up its Blakely mess?"  That debate, which can still be read here, remains relvant six months later (and I must brag a bit by noting that Stephanos and I both suggested that Justice Breyer might have a central hand in creating the post-Booker world).

I bring up Legal Affairs' Debate Club not (only) to toot my own horn, but rather to spotlight this week's debate between Professors Richard Bierschbach and Michael O'Hear addressing "Will An Apology Save you From Jail?"  This is a great topic, which is set up at Legal Affairs with this introduction:

If a criminal apologizes for what he did wrong, a judge may shorten his sentence. But according to a recent Yale Law Journal article by Stephanos Bibas and Richard Bierschbach, the apology should play a role in more than just decisions about length of punishment.  A prosecutor perhaps shouldn't press charges against a petty criminal who shows remorse, and the victims of more serious crimes should be brought face to face with a contrite perpetrator for potential reconciliation.  An apology, they argue, could teach a moral lesson to a criminal and help a community recover after an act of violence. 

No doubt remorse and apology can benefit victims and communities that have been hurt by crime.  But would it be a good idea to relieve a criminal of punishment if he's willing to say he's sorry?

In a post-Booker world in which federal and some state judges will have more sentencing discretion, the import and impact of remorse in the criminal justice system is that much more important.  I am very pleased to see Legal Affairs doing another sentencing-related topic, and I encourge everyone to follow this debate.

April 4, 2005 at 03:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I am a parent of a black 19 years old male who is inconsirated on $500,000.00 bond on a conspiracy to commit first degree assault witha garbage arrest warrant. He is going to be sentenced in 2 weeks. He has been there since March 2005 the prosecutor has made an offerof 5 years I think this is so unfair. There should be programs to help our youths. My son has always been a well manner kid no problems in school no disrepect to adults. He just caught up and the wrong place at the wrong time. I feel the bond was to high for what happened. I was reading the article about apology at the sentencing my sons plans are to talk to the judge and let him know that he is not a discrace to society. If anytthing he would like to help the younger community of kids who this can happen to. Trouble is so easy to get into but hard and suffering to get out. A feeling to fit in, be ing cool guns, volience leads to death. He has a friend that was killed last year my son went to jail depress over the killing of his close friend. I feel at the hearing if my son express himself feeling and sorrows and what a help he can be to some up coming youth. Do you feel he can off less than the 5 years? He has always played sports since 5 years old t-ball baseball, basketball he had great sportmanship. Great person with little kids he volunteer when he was 15 for a summer camp. A feel he has been doiwn for a year of punishment now he need rehabilatation, education, counseling for the loss of his friend. If not he can be ruin in the jail.

Posted by: Cathy | Feb 1, 2006 7:23:37 PM

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