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Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoatsAllocating blame in the criminal justice process$
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Gavin Dingwall and Tim Hillier

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305002

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305002.001.0001

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Blame amplification

Blame amplification

Chapter:
(p.101) Five Blame amplification
Source:
Blamestorming, blamemongers and scapegoats
Author(s):

Gavin Dingwall

Tim Hillier

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447305002.003.0005

Chapter Five conceptualises blame amplification. It starts with a detailed review of offence-severity and how this can be quantified objectively. What is central to this chapter is the relevance of particular factors present in a given case which may make it more serious than usual. These aggravating factors are seen to amplify the offender’s blame. We consider the factors that the public identified when determining the seriousness of sexual offences and how these correspond to the factors sentencers should consider when passing sentence. All of this pre-supposes rational decision-making on the part of the offender. Social science research suggests, though, that this distorts the process which calls into question whether issues of aggravation and mitigation can be calibrated with any accuracy. The chapter ends by considering ‘extraordinary crime’ (that is, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity). Research suggests that few would resist participating in such events for a variety of reasons. Given this insight, how does blame assist us in finding an appropriate response to extraordinary crime?

Keywords:   blame amplification, seriousness, proportionality, justice, extraordinary crimes, aggravation, rationality

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