Engaging head and heart: An Australian story on the role of compassion in criminal justice reform

Lorana Bartels, Anthony Hopkins

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Maruna and King have suggested that ‘[j]ustice is, at its heart, an emotional, symbolic process, not simply a matter of effectiveness and efficiency’ (2008: 347). This chapter argues for an engagement of heart and head in pursuit of less punitive, more rational, criminal justice law reform. Against a background of rising incarceration rates in Australia and recent reforms to bail, sentencing and parole laws that have resulted in increased prison populations, we argue that fear is a driver of punitive law reform, a lever for those who advocate increased punitivity and an emotion that sees people turn away from those we imprison. We contrast this with compassion, with its potential to ‘open the heart’ and facilitate a turning towards those who are the subject of punishment, as fellow human beings. Ultimately, we suggest that compassion presents an emotive and essential ally to complement ‘rational’ arguments for reducing incarceration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Law and Emotion
    PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
    Pages268-286
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9781788119085
    ISBN (Print)9781788119078
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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