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Previous Convictions at Sentencing

Theoretical and Applied Perspectives

Editor(s): Julian V Roberts, Andreas von Hirsch
Media of Previous Convictions at Sentencing
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Published: 12-07-2010
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 268
ISBN: 9781847315915
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Studies in Penal Theory and Penal Ethics
RRP: £20.69
Online price : £16.55
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Loren Epson

About Previous Convictions at Sentencing

This latest volume in the Penal Theory and Penal Ethics series addresses one of the oldest and most contested questions in the field of criminal sentencing: should an offender's previous convictions affect the sentence? This question provokes a series of others: Is it possible to justify a discount for first offenders within a retributive sentencing framework? How should previous convictions enter into the sentencing equation? At what point should prior misconduct cease to count for the purposes of fresh sentencing? Should similar previous convictions count more than convictions unrelated to the current offence? Statutory sentencing regimes around the world incorporate provisions which mandate harsher treatment of repeat offenders. Although there is an extensive literature on the definition and use of criminal history information, the emphasis here, as befits a volume in the series, is on the theoretical and normative aspects of considering previous convictions at sentencing. Several authors explore the theory underlying the practice of mitigating the punishments for first offenders, while others put forth arguments for enhancing sentences for recidivists. The practice of sentencing repeat offenders in two jurisdictions (England and Wales, and Sweden) is also examined in detail.

Table Of Contents

1 Proportionality and the Progressive Loss of Mitigation: Some Further Reflections
Andrew von Hirsch
2 First-Offender Sentencing Discounts: Exploring the Justifications
Julian V Roberts
3 Recidivism, Retributivism, and the Lapse Theory of Previous Convictions
Jesper Ryberg
4 Repeat Offenders and the Question of Desert
Youngjae Lee
5 'More to Apologise For': Can We Find a Basis for the Recidivist Premium in a Communicative Theory of Punishment?
Chris Bennett
6 The Questionable Relevance of Previous Convictions to Punishments for Later Crimes
Michael Tonry
7 Prior-conviction Sentencing Enhancements: Rationales and Limits Based on Retributive and Utilitarian Proportionality Principles and Social Equality Goals
Richard S Frase
8 The Illusion of Proportionality: Desert and Repeat Offenders
Kevin R Reitz
9 Dimensions of Criminal History: Reflections on Theory and Practice
Martin Wasik
10 The Role of Previous Convictions in England and Wales
Estella Baker and Andrew Ashworth
x Contents
11 Previous Convictions and Proportionate Punishment under Swedish Law
Petter Asp
12 Assessing the Impact of a Recidivist Sentencing Premium on Crime and Recidivism Rates
Lila Kazemian


“The editors and contributors tackle a particularly thorny issue in this elegant 256-page text: Should an offender's previous convictions affect sentence?.. Professors Roberts and von Hirsch address with signal skill the question of just deserts and proportionality, the progressive loss of mitigation, the issues of first offender discounts.. and the question of deserved punishment when recidivism is demonstrated” –  Judge G. Renaud, Criminal Law Quarterly, Volume 59

“the experiences, developments and points of view in other countries, as described in this book, are very valuable to us” –  J.A.W. Lensing, Trema Straftoemetingsbulletin, Nr 1, 2011

“In Previous Convictions at Sentencing Roberts and Von Hirsch have brought together a selection of leading thinkers to illuminate an aspect of punishment theory and practice that has largely remained in the shadows despite its obvious importance. An attractive feature of the book, in addition to the thoughtful and penetrating analyses that it contains, is the vigorous exchange of views that takes place between its covers. The editors have not shied away from including perspectives that are at odds with their own, or from revising and reformulating their views, or indeed from finding fault with each other's conclusions. This internal dialogue helps to expose where further critical inquiry would yield the greatest return.” –  Ian O'Donnell, Punishment & Society

“This collection is welcome as it offers insights into the problems facing sentencers and penologists in taking past convictions into account.” –  Susan Easton, Criminal Law Review

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