remorse-manuscript-socialandlegalstudies-websiteedition.doc

Intoxicated at the time of his encounter with the

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intoxicated at the time of his encounter with (the victim, he ) does not use it to excuse his behavior[ R. v. P. ( B.W. )2003]: 2).” Justifications for misconduct such as the contention of an offender convicted of fraud that “other car businesses do the same thing( R.v. MacAdam [2003]: 481)” similarly nullify characterization as a remorseful offender. As one arbitrator expressed it, remorse requires a “full acceptance of responsibility” with no invoking of excuses or “stressful circumstances” however much “that is certainly a natural response( Re Brewers Distribution Ltd. [ 2003]: 48).” It is perhaps not surprising that, in the population under review, the majority of offenders or grievors who appeared before their adjudicator failed to show remorse according to this first criterion. Probably the dominant mode of explanation in the social sciences for accounting for the reluctance of rule-breakers to accept full responsibility for their wrongdoing is still neutralization theory as articulated some fifty years ago in the classic work of Gresham Sykes and David Matza(Sykes and Matza, 1957) 5 . The primary thrust of this approach is to suggest that those who break the rules of their community but who remain attached to its values will seek to ‘neutralize’ or diminish social condemnation as well as self-reproach by accounting for their actions in ways that reduce their culpability. Moreover, these accounts or ‘techniques’ will pattern themselves after what are perceived as the existing repertory of socially acceptable excuses or justifications. Hence, the person who is convicted of sexual interference but claims that his victims were not damaged by his actions or the auto worker who attributes his physical altercation with a fellow worker to his long term depression or the grievor who reproaches his employers 13
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and accusers as irresponsible and incompetent or the offender who has been convicted of fraud for rolling back odometers and who claims that this is normal practice for persons in his occupation exemplify one or more of the ‘techniques’ identified by the authors in which the offender seeks to deflect blame away from themselves on to the victim or the situation. The truly remorseful person, on the other hand, as conceived by the court or tribunal, however, is someone who makes use of none of these devices for diminishing their responsibility for the misconduct for which they have been charged. Far from trying to blunt social condemnation by invoking circumstance or contingency and far from seeking mitigation by redirecting blame to other causes, those who demonstrate remorse portray themselves as deserving of whatever social disapproval or punishment they may receive for their choice to commit an act they knew to be morally wrong.
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