Proportionality and the Experience of Punishment

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Sentencing in Canada: Essays in Law, Policy, and Practice. David Cole and Julian Roberts, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020), 368-389.


Drawn from a case in which the Supreme Court of Canada grappled with the signal societal trauma wrought by the operation of the criminal justice system — the travesty of Indigenous overrepresentation in Canadian prisons — the epigraph to this chapter points to the ethical heart of a distinctive and important development in Canadian sentencing law. It involves an approach that has already disrupted certain elements of contemporary sentencing practice and, depending on how sentencing judges embrace it, may open up new futures in Canadian sentencing. This development is the emergence of individualized proportionality as the fundamental principle of sentencing in Canada.

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