When Should Law Forgive? (Hardcover)
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393081763, 256pp.
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
A towering and beloved figure in legal scholarship, Martha Minow explores the complicated intersection between law, justice, and forgiveness, asking whether law should encourage individuals to forgive and when should the courts, public officials, and specific laws forgive? Minow examines these questions through sometimes- troubling cases-- comparing the legal treatment of juvenile offenses in the US with international responses to child soldiers, for example, and the legal forgiveness of corporate debt with the lack of forgiveness for consumer debt and student loans.
With compassion and acumen, Minow acknowledges that there are certainly grounds for both individuals and societies to withhold forgiveness, but argues that there are also many places where letting go of justified grievances can make law more just, not less. This type of lawful forgiveness might also nudge individuals and societies toward the respect and generosity that comes with apology and restitution. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.