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Though forgiveness and mercy matter greatly in social life, they play fairly small roles in criminal procedure. Criminal procedure is dominated by the state, whose interests in deterring, incapacitating, and inflicting retribution leave little room for mercy. An alternative system, however, would focus more on the needs of human participants. Victim-offender mediation, sentencing discounts, and other mechanisms could encourage offenders to express remorse, victims to forgive, and communities to reintegrate and employ offenders. All of these actors could then better heal, reconcile, and get on with their lives. Forgiveness and mercy are not panaceas: not all offenders and victims would choose to take part, there are dangers of fakery and arbitrariness, and some forgiven offenders would reoffend. On the whole, however, this forgiving model offers a humane alternative to state-dominated criminal procedure.


Criminal Law and Procedure

Publication Title

Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

Publication Citation

4 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 329 (2007).