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Sentencing and PunishmentThe Quest for Justice

Sentencing and Punishment: The Quest for Justice (4th edn)

Susan Easton and Christine Piper
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date: 20 August 2022

p. 372. Structuring sentencinglocked

p. 372. Structuring sentencinglocked

  • Susan EastonSusan EastonProfessor of Law, Brunel University
  •  and Christine PiperChristine PiperEmeritus Professor of Law, Brunel University


This chapter examines the ways in which sentencing discretion is limited: a sentencing system in which there were no controls on how the judge or magistrate came to a decision on sentence would not be a principled system and could lead to injustice in individual cases. This chapter, therefore, examines the ways in which sentencing discretion is constrained, not only through law and guidance but also through the use of a justificatory principle as a constraint. In particular, it reviews the development of new forms of sentencing guidance, notably the definitive guidelines produced by the Sentencing Council, and discusses in detail the importance of a retributivist rationale. It explains classical retributivism, with a focus on Kant and Hegel, as well as modern retributivism.

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