Long haul remorse: the continuous performance of repentance throughout prison sentences

Maggie Hall, Kate Rossmanith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Remorse scholarship commonly focuses on presentations of remorse dealt with by courts, studying the behaviour of the accused up to and including the court hearing. This chapter considers the way remorse is dealt with throughout people's prison sentences. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews carried out by both authors in separate contexts in the New South Wales criminal justice system in Australia between 2009 and 2018, it explores how familiar ways of performing remorse in court are not ‘fit’ for the long-term serving of one's sentence. The chapter suggests that, for prisoners, it is unclear precisely how, practically, they are expected to demonstrate remorse in prison. While remorse remains an important concern for parole release authorities, and underpins various assessments and rehabilitation programmes in prison, the moral language of remorse and repentance is often absent from correctional discourse. The chapter shows how, in correctional psychology, remorse is hiding in plain sight through terms such as ‘victim empathy’ and ‘accountability’. The chapter then teases out the lived experiences of people serving prison sentences and shows how difficult it is for prisoners to accomplish the various enactments that, together, are implicitly viewed as ‘remorse’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemorse and criminal justice
Subtitle of host publicationmulti-disciplinary perspectives
EditorsSteven Tudor, Richard Weisman, Michael Proeve, Kate Rossmanith
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780429001062
ISBN (Print)9780367028763, 9781032104768
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameNew Advances In Crime And Social Harm


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