The Remorse Fallacy

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by Robert Urbanek, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. Robert Urbanek

    Robert Urbanek Active Member

    Feb 17, 2013
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    A criminal’s display of remorse if often used by a judge in determining length of sentence or by a parole board in deciding if a felon will be released from prison. But are demonstrations of remorse a valid consideration for anything?

    Does a display of remorse simply give an advantage to the sly, manipulative offender who can say what the judge wants to hear and a disadvantage to the stupid pigheaded criminal who can’t talk his way out of anything? Even a seemingly genuine display of remorse can be suspect. We know, for example, that many wife beaters will tell their spouse how sorry they are and promise never to repeat what they did, but then they continue the abuse.

    As for considering parole, the best and most objective standards would seem to be good behavior in prison, “aging out” of reckless youthful behavior, useful vocational training, and social contacts and job prospects outside the prison.

    “I am not aware of any studies that show that insight and remorse are correlated to recidivism,” says Heidi Rummel, the director of the Post-Conviction Justice Project at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. (Source: “How to Get Out of Prison,” The New York Times Magazine, Jan. 5, 2020.)

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