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What does the public think of restorative justice as a response to crime?

Description

What does the public think of restorative justice as a response to crime?

The use of victim-offender mediation in criminal cases is on its rise in the Netherlands. Victim-offender mediation (VOM) is an example of restorative justice and its goal is giving victims and offenders of criminal offences the opportunity to talk to each other in a safe environment, to help them cope with the crime. Through this dialogue, emotions and needs are communicated, which is important for the healing process of the victim, since it shows to reduce victims’ feelings of fear and anger. It also heightens victim empathy and responsibility taking of the offender, which can lead to lower chances of recidivism (Umbreit, 2004).

This year the government decided to finance mediation in criminal cases with one million euros each year, for the following five years. This means that mediation will be used more often to sole criminal cases and people more often come in contact with mediation. Till date, not a lot of research has been done on the publics’ opinion about the use of mediation and/or restorative justice as a means to solve crime. However, it is important to examine the publics’ opinion on the response to crime. If for example the public is opposed to the way authorities react to crime, this may undermine their respect towards the law (Van Gelder et al., 2015).

The aim of this project is to gain more insight into the publics opinion about VOM as a response to crime and its’ place in the criminal justice system and how it can be influenced. This can be examined in relation to (for example) the publics’ orientation towards justice in general or its’ trust in legal authorities.

Type of research

Experimental and/or correlational, survey. Depending on the research question.

Keywords

Restorative justice; victim offender mediation; perspective taking; restoration moral identity

Literature

Umbreit, M. S., Coates, R. B., & Vos, B. (2004). Victim‐offender mediation: Three decades of practice and research. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 22(1‐2), 279-303.

Okimoto, T. G., Wenzel, M., & Feather, N. T. (2012). Retribution and restoration as general orientations towards justice. European Journal of Personality, 26(3), 255-275.

Van Gelder, J. L., Aarten, P., Lamet, W., & van der Laan, P. (2015). Unknown, Unloved? Public Opinion on and Knowledge of Suspended Sentences in the Netherlands. Crime & Delinquency, 61(5), 669-689.

Information

Interested in this assignment? Contact the BA-Thesis coordinator at j.m.gutteling@utwente.nl