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Contextual constraints on defendants’ apologies at sentencing

Studies in Law, Politics and Society

ISBN: 978-1-84855-090-2, eISBN: 978-1-84855-091-9

ISSN: 1059-4337

Publication date: 1 September 2008


This chapter explores some of the risks and constraints associated with defendants’ apologies during allocution at sentencing. It argues that defendants’ stigmatized institutional role identities in conjunction with the constraints imposed by the discursive context of allocution function to limit both the effectiveness with which defendants can speak on their own behalf and the kinds of things that they can say. Allocution has long been understood as a protection for defendants. This chapter proposes that the ideologies associated with this turn at talk have functioned to obscure the ways in which allocution preserves existing power configurations instead of challenging them.


Catherine Gruber, M. (2008), "Contextual constraints on defendants’ apologies at sentencing", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Studies in Law, Politics and Society (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 45), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-74.



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