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The Ethics of Plea Bargaining$
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Richard L. Lippke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199641468

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199641468.001.0001

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Remorse and Waiver Rewards

Remorse and Waiver Rewards

(p.97) 4 Remorse and Waiver Rewards
The Ethics of Plea Bargaining

Richard L. Lippke

Oxford University Press

Waiver rewards have also been defended on the grounds that the mitigation of punishment is appropriate when individuals are truly contrite about the wrongs which they have committed. The chapter surveys the theoretical and practical problems with a remorse-based defense of waiver rewards. Even on the assumption that remorse can be reliably detected, it serves as a defensible ground of punishment mitigation only if it is put to work by wrongdoers in effecting self-reform. Yet self-reform takes time. State officials would have to monitor offenders’ efforts at it and determine when and by how much their punishment should be reduced. Not only should we be wary of assigning state officials these tasks, the prospect of reduced punishment might distract offenders’ from a focus on changing their lives. More to the point, the waiver rewards employed routinely in plea bargaining are not reductions in punishment premised on successful self-reform.

Keywords:   remorse, waiver rewards, sentence mitigation, self-reform, deserved punishment, crime reduction

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