Berryessa, C. M., & Balavender, A*. (2021). The value of remorse as a “therapeutic tool” for probation officers in sentencing. In Perlin, M. & Frailing., K (Eds.), Justice outsourced: The therapeutic jurisprudence implications of judicial decision-making by non-judicial officers. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Although shame and guilt are often conceived as adverse sentiments in criminal contexts, defendants’ expressions of remorse may actually act as an effective “therapeutic tool” in the legal process in order to reduce negative emotions, decrease future recidivism, and increase both community and victim healing, as well as rehabilitation. As such, evaluations of remorse should be integrated into decision-making processes at different stages of the criminal-legal process. The current chapter discusses the potential role of remorse, as a form of “therapeutic guilt,” in the context of probation officer decision-making and the relevance of remorse to their pre-sentencing reports and sentencing recommendations. We argue that probation officers should evaluate, recognize, and adopt the therapeutic value of remorse as a type of “reintegrative shaming” that can provide genuine evidence of their clients’ potential for restoration and reintegration into the community. Ultimately, this chapter provides recommendations and a framework for probation officers on how to best recognize and assess true remorse, understand its therapeutic relevance within the Therapeutic Jurisprudence framework, and how it may be integrated into their reports and decision-making in sentencing moving forward.