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“Forgive Me Victim For I Have Sinned”: Why Repentance and the Criminal Justice System Do Not Mix–A Lesson From Jewish Law

Bader, Cheryl G
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Fordham Urban Law Journal. 31: 69-97.

This essay will critique the GJP’s [Georgia Justice Project] encouragement of confessions in the context of the secular American justice system via comparison with the treatment of confessions under ancient Jewish law. Specifically, this essay posits that the absolute prohibition on the use of confessions in a legal system firmly rooted in religious values recognizes the danger inherent in combining the act of speaking of one’s sins for religious penance with the use of such confessions in the criminal adjudication process. The Jewish legal system avoids these inherent dangers by completely devaluing the accused’s confession. The GJP, in contrast, merges the process of seeking absolution with the criminal adjudication of the client’s criminal case, not only running the risk of exposing the client to greater criminal liability, but also risking devaluing the act of speaking ones sins to achieve true spiritual repentance by compelling confession as a condition to legal representation. (excerpt)


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