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Can we influence peoples’ willingness to participate in victim-offender mediation?

Description

Can we influence peoples’ willingness to participate in victim-offender mediation?

The use of restorative justice as a response to crime is on its rise. Nowadays after a crime, victims and offenders more often get the opportunity to solve the conflict by participating in victim-offender mediation (VOM). VOM is part 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 to 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). Participation in restorative justice programs is voluntary and in only 40-60 percent of the cases in which mediation is offered, it will come to a conversation between victim and offender. Some conclusions have been drawn on why parties are not willing to participate, such as feelings of fear or trust in the other parties’ sincerity (Umbreit, 2004). Although participation is voluntary, it is interesting to examine if we can influence peoples’ willingness to participate.

Could it be that someone is more inclined to participate when s/he is familiar with restorative justice and mediation, because what is unknown is unloved? How do stories of other victims and offenders influence people? Does it matter how information about restorative justice is framed and how is this related to for example someone’s orientation towards justice, being it more retributive or restorative? As you can read, there are many options for this assignment.

Type of research

Experimental, survey. It depends on the research question. It can be scenario based

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 project? Contact the BA-thesis coordinator J. Gutteling at j.m.gutteling@utwente.nl