remorse-manuscript-socialandlegalstudies-websiteedition.doc

Mr r on the other hand presented as a pitiful

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of his life.’ Mr. R., on the other hand, presented “ as a pitiful, dejected shell of a man who has never forgiven himself for his failure as a Priest(p.27.)” Mr. R. was credited with having feelings of remorse, as expressed and demonstrated, that are ‘unquestionably genuine and profound(p.26).” Because of the changes he had made in his life, the judge had concluded- “Institutional incarceration may have originally fit the crime. It no longer fits the criminal(p.37.)” Moreover, the judgement held that he had already made reparation to society by ‘forging a useful and constructive career(p.37.)’ The punishment imposed was that of a conditional sentence in which Mr. R. would be able to remain at home under strict conditions of parole. 11 The second case involves a man, Mr. C., who was convicted of dangerous driving causing death( R. v. Chisholm, 2002). Mr. C was the driver of a vehicle over which he lost control while impaired by alcohol and while driving far in excess of the speed limit. As a result, of the three passengers in his car, one was fatally injured while the driver and the other two passengers received minor injuries. All of the passengers were friends who had worked together for 13 years and who socialized together outside of work. The judgement describes the defendant as remorseful in these terms- “following the accident, he( Mr.C.) suffered deep and long term depression as a result of what had 27
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transpired. As he should, he sought medical assistance, he received counseling, and re received medication to deal with issues of depression. I have no reason to disbelieve his psychiatrist who described him as grief-stricken and depressed. In short, the Defendant is an average law-abiding and productive citizen who made an alcohol-induced error in judgement with tragic result for which the defendant has and will continue to pay dearly. It is, in my opinion… unlikely that the Defendant will ever be free of his financial responsibilities let alone his emotional state(p.10.) “ (All quotes taken from case.) The remorsefulness of the offender was corroborated as well by the immediate family of the victim- wife, mother-in-law, and father-in-law. Before pronouncing sentence, the judge described the defendant in these terms-“ He is indeed, aside from his guilty plea, remorseful. I have come to the conclusion and I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that evidenced by his mental state and based on the opinion of his psychiatrist and , in fact, his Probation Officer, who is obliged to consider matters such as this, he indeed is remorseful for what he has done(p.22.)” I take these two judgements not as neutral descriptions of character based on evidence that was submitted but rather as part of a narrative that constitutes how a member of society- one of us as opposed to someone who is a ‘criminal’- behaves when they have committed a wrongdoing. Whether or not it is the good reputation of the wrongdoer - the ‘lawabidingness’ of the one or the ‘pro-social’ characteristics of the other- that imports
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