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Censure and Sanctions$
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Andrew von Hirsch

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198262411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198262411.001.0001

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Penance and Personalized Desert

Penance and Personalized Desert

(p.71) 8 Penance and Personalized Desert
Censure and Sanctions

Andrew von Hirsch

Oxford University Press

The personalised sentence, designed to fit the defendant's personality and needs, was associated with penal rehabilitationism. Faith in it has waned for a variety of reasons. Treatment no longer seems plausible as the chief aim for sentencing, and the wide discretion required for such an aim has turned out to lead, too easily, to inconsistency and caprice. Conceivably, however, the personalised sentence could be reconceptualised to achieve another aim — that of conveying blame particularly suited to the wrongdoer. When someone is blamed for a wrongful act, shame or penitence would seem to be the appropriate response. Conceivably, the sentence might be fashioned so as best to elicit that response. Controls over excessive discretion could be introduced to prevent disproportionate and inconsistent outcomes.

Keywords:   personalised sentence, penal rehabilitationism, inconsistency, penitence, excessive discretion, sentencing, blame, wrongful act, shame

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