Source: (2008) In Arie Freiberg and Karen Gelb, Eds., Penal Populism, Sentencing Councils and Sentencing Policy. Cullompton, Devon UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 224-239

The contribution to this volume make it clear that there is a significant trend toward increasing public participation in sentencing policy in many countries in the world. Handled well, this should lead to greater public trust in justice. Mishandled, public opinion can exercise a dire impact on penal policy. The aim of this chapter is to assess how best to achieve positive and constructive community engagement in penal policy. We take it as axiomatic that "community engagement" is a two-way process, involving on the on hand, the provision of information and education, and on the other, a genuine responsiveness to what people think about justice. How this is best done involves not only substantive decisions about the right balance to strike in informing and responding, but also the building of the right institutional framework to allow for effective community engagement. (Excerpt)