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Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Law Enforcement and Corrections

2007

Criminal Law and Procedure

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Forgiveness In Criminal Procedure, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2007

Forgiveness In Criminal Procedure, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Though forgiveness and mercy matter greatly in social life, they play fairly small roles in criminal procedure. Criminal procedure is dominated by the state, whose interests in deterring, incapacitating, and inflicting retribution leave little room for mercy. An alternative system, however, would focus more on the needs of human participants. Victim-offender mediation, sentencing discounts, and other mechanisms could encourage offenders to express remorse, victims to forgive, and communities to reintegrate and employ offenders. All of these actors could then better heal, reconcile, and get on with their lives. Forgiveness and mercy are not panaceas: not all offenders and victims would ...