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The reform of sentencing and the future of the criminal courts.

Faulkner, David
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Peter Sedgwick, ed., Rethinking sentencing: a contribution to the debate. A report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council. London: Church House Publishing. Pp. 1-17. Downloaded 16 September 2005.

The first account in Western literature of a criminal trial is probably the
description of the shield that the god Hephaestus made for the hero
Achilles in Homer’s Iliad. The shield shows a scene in which a trial is
taking place over the penalty to be paid for a man’s death. The defendant
has offered to pay restitution; the victim’s family refuses to accept it. The
family’s acceptance will bring an end to the matter – what might today be
called ‘closure’. Refusal will lead to a blood feud between the two families
that might continue from generation to generation. The issue is referred
to a judge or arbitrator, who calls in the elders of the community to form
what might now be called a sentencing circle. The scene shows an early
recognition that, in a settled society, the effects of a crime cannot be
satisfactorily resolved by the parties on their own, others have a stake in
the outcome, and a wider public interest is involved. Classical scholars
have interpreted the text in different ways, but the issue the elders are
being called on to decide is in effect a choice between retributive and
reparative justice. (excerpt)


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