M. Eve Hanan


It is an article that addresses how implicit cognitive biases may affect judges when they decide whether to credit defendants’ displays of remorse and how we can lessen the effects of that bias. This article focuses exclusively on the relationship between racial bias against African Americans – primarily men – and remorse assessment. Much more can and should be said about how implicit biases relating to gender, class, and other social groupings might affect judges when they assess defendant remorse. While taking a multi-dimensional approach to the intersections of race, gender, class, and other variables yields important insights, this article focuses on bias against African American men for two reasons. First, sentencing disparity is clearest between black male and white male defendants. Second, the implicit – and sometimes explicit – association of African Americans with criminality may directly cause judges to discredit remorse displays.

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