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February 16, 2013

"Stakeholder Sentencing" from book exploring the import of public opinion on penal theory

I was intrigued and pleased to see this new paper on SSRN by UK scholar Thom Brooks, which is to be part of a forthcoming book exploring important (and under-theorized) topics concerning public opinion and sentencing policies. The forthcoming book is titled Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory, and here is the abstract for the "Stakeholder Sentencing" chapter:

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.

February 16, 2013 at 01:10 PM | Permalink


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The public has only one interest. It does not want to testify. It does not want to participate ind sentencing. Least of all does it want to be represented by a lawyer, to navigate any legal labyrinth, a official "victim."

Public's sole desire is to be safe. The criminal law does not keep us safe. Competing institutions with a better track record of safety are under an all out attack by the lawyer profession. These include family, church, school. The lawyer is an intentional enemy to public safety, to protect the criminal, and to generate government make work jobs.

If someone wants to lower crime, and to take matters in one's hands, kill a member of the lawyer hierarchy, not a criminal. If you look at high crime nations, overlawyered. If you look at low crime nations, underlawyered. The rent seeking lawyer is the most powerful cause of crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 17, 2013 7:04:11 AM

Summary of lawyer numbers.


One should add, Japan has 20,000 lawyers for 100 million people. Low crime rate.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Feb 17, 2013 11:39:45 AM

Thank you for these kind words. I'm delighted to say the book should be out next month.

Posted by: Thom Brooks | Sep 28, 2013 6:39:50 AM

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