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This commentary on Zhong et al. begins by addressing the definition of remorse. It then primarily focuses on the relation between remorse and various justifications for punishment commonly accepted in Anglo-American jurisprudence and suggests that remorse cannot be used in a principled way in sentencing. It examines whether forensic psychiatrists have special expertise in evaluating remorse and concludes that they do not. The final section is a pessimistic meditation on sentencing disparities, which is a striking finding of Zhong et al.


Criminal law, forensic psychiatry, sentencing, justifications for blame and punishment, retribution, deterrence and incapacitation, nonpaternalistic and paternalistic rehabilitation, remorse and forensic practice, restitution, judges, judicial discretion

Publication Title

Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry & Law

Publication Citation

42 J. Am. Acad. Psychiatry & L. 49 (2014).