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

Cyrus Tata, Stewart Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235–238
Number of pages4
JournalPunishment and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • sentencing
  • pre-sentence reports
  • pre-sentence investigation
  • comparative penology
  • actuarial justice

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