Sentencing : A Social Process: Re-thinking Research and Policy

Research output: Book/ReportBook


How we should we make sense of sentencing? Despite huge efforts world-wide to analyse, critique and reform sentencing, why does it remain an enigma? Sentencing: a Social Process reveals how both research and policy-thinking about sentencing are dominated by a paradigm of presumed autonomous individualism, projecting an artificial image of sentencing practices.      

Sentencing: a Social Process proposes a fresh approach. By conceiving sentencing as a social process taken-for-granted binary oppositions, (e.g. rules versus discretion; aggravating versus mitigating factors; offence versus offender; individualisation versus consistency; punishment versus rehabilitation), can be reimagined.    

Advancing new research and policy agendas, the book releases fresh thinking about classic conundrums, including: ways of reducing imprisonment; the efficiency and the quality of justice; punishment and humane treatment; and technology and judgement.         

Praise for Sentencing: A Social Process.
'“Sentencing: A Social Process offers a highly original and constructive re-thinking of policy and research. It enriches and enlivens a debate that is too often polarized and unproductive.” Susan Bandes, Centennial Distinguished Professor De Paul Law School, USA.   

“Breaks the chains of moral individualism that bind our understanding of sentencing and our attempts to reform it.” Fergus McNeill, Professor of Criminology & Social Work, Glasgow University.   

“Cyrus Tata is a pioneering thinker in sentencing research and this book convincingly develops his position against depictions of sentencing as individualistic actions by autonomous judges.” Kristel Beyens, Professor of Criminology and Penology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.   

"Elegantly and directly, this book re-frames sentencing as a complex, multifaceted and mediated process. Essential reading for anyone involved and interested in sentencing and the criminal justice system." Sharyn Roach Anleu, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor, Flinders University, Australia.    

"Tata shows in a brilliant way how our impatience to realise change, obstructs our capacity to observe how sentencing processes really work." Miranda Boone, Professor of Criminology, Leiden University, Netherlands.

Book Reviews.

“Tata’s book is persuasively and beautifully written. It is clear and well structured, and both informative and challenging. It is an inspiring work, and ought to be read and enjoyed both by academics and reflective professionals from legal and therapeutic professions.” The Journal of Law & Society.

“A lively and compellingly original scholarly foray into sentencing research.” Centre for Crime & Justice Studies.

“An invitation to rethink existing orthodoxies…Eminently approachable, and deserves to be widely read." Punishment & Society: The International Journal of Penology.

 “Every once in a while, a work appears that mounts a robust challenge to some of our most fundamental assumptions about sentencing. Cyrus Tata’s new book, is one such work.” Sentencing, Crime & Justice.

 “This eminently readable book…piercing the mystique of sentencing”  International Journal of Crime, Justice & Social Democracy.

“A convincing critique of contemporary sentencing research and policy literatures. Eloquently and eruditely written, Tata’s book…makes an impressive contribution to the current state of literature in sentencing research and policy is a must-read for anyone interested in sentencing decision-making.”  Probation Journal

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages190
ISBN (Electronic)9783030010607
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2020

Publication series

NameSocio-Legal Series


  • sentencing
  • sentencing policy
  • punishment
  • discretionary legal decision-making
  • legal professionals
  • judiciary
  • decision support systems
  • imprisonment
  • penal decision-making
  • mitigation
  • community penalties
  • gender
  • property
  • sentencing guidelines
  • penal reform
  • sentencing research


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