Empathy, crime, and justice

Authored by: Chad Posick , Michael Rocque , Matt DeLisi

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749


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Justice is the cornerstone of any fair and democratic society. It should therefore come as little surprise that issues concerning the fairness of punishment, mechanisms of social control, and treatment of those who break societal rules are so important to people in society. Questions abound as to the origins of our sense of justice and how we can build a just society. One of the essential elements of justice includes the concept of empathy. Empathy is a focus in research efforts as an integral component of making laws, responding to lawbreakers, and preventing crime (Posick et al., 2014). This chapter discusses how empathy is an essential component of each of these areas, demonstrating how it contributes to a holistic understanding of key concepts in the field of criminology. This foray into the importance of empathy in the study of criminology can help us further our understanding of why people break laws and, consequently, how to prevent those behaviors in the first place.

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