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Responding to Heinous Crime: Best Practices and the Current State of the Art

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 2 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2007 Pages: 307-326
Frederic G. Reamer
Date Published
October 2007
20 pages
This article examines the nature, etiology, and responses to heinous crimes.
Heinous crimes involve offenses that are odious, shockingly cruel, and abhorrent. Victims, criminal justice professionals, and the public at large struggle in their efforts to respond to heinous crimes in ways that simultaneously protect the public, promote rehabilitation, provide an opportunity for retribution, and punish. Heinous crimes present a severe challenge in a democratic society that seeks to respond to unspeakable acts in a just, principled, and fair manner. This article examines the nature of heinous crimes, explores their etiology, and considers the merits of possible responses in light of current knowledge and "best practices." The author presents a comprehensive typology of heinous crime, based on a qualitative analysis of 13,000 parole cases, and explores the appropriate role of retribution and revenge, punishment, rehabilitation, and restorative and reparative justice. (Published Abstract)