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Connecting legal and social justice in the neo-liberal world? : the construction interpretation and use of pre-sentence reports

Tata, Cyrus and Field, Stewart (2010) Connecting legal and social justice in the neo-liberal world? : the construction interpretation and use of pre-sentence reports. Punishment and Society, 12 (3). 235–238. ISSN 1462-4745

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Abstract

The legitimacy of state-imposed punishment depends on more than the making of lawful decisions. The sentencing process is legitimated also by looking outwards beyond narrow legal criteria so as to accommodate individualized substantive justice, including some recognition of social disadvantage. Pre-sentence reports1 are the main way in which sentencing brings together these legal and social conceptions of justice. In their advice and assistance to sentencers, reports enable penal decision making to accommodate ‘external’ context, while also rapidly processing a high volume of cases. Indeed, the instrumentally ‘efficient’ disposal of cases may well hinge upon the expression of individualization and humanity