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There are certain crimes that seem to demand justice more than others; people seem to be appalled by certain types of crimes, and sexual assault is certainly one of those. Considering that sexual assault is one of those crimes that desperately cries out for justice it may be hard to imagine a sexual assault victim wanting to enter a restorative justice program with the offender.

Despite what might intuitively seem to be a strong desire for vengeance or suffering against a sexual assault offender, many people have chosen to take part in a restorative justice program specifically for sex assault called RESTORE. RESTORE is a program that attempts to foster a dialogue between the victim called survivor-victims and the offender called the responsible person.

The names used for the victim and offender in the program demonstrate how the program attempts to reverse the power roles that were in play when the crime occurred. The goal of RESTORE is to provide the victim with a voice in how the criminal case proceeds while making the offender accept responsibility. The results of the study conducted on the victims and offenders who participated in RESTORE were very encouraging as it relates to the completion of the offender reparation plans and victim satisfaction with the program.

Koss reported that one of the primary reasons victims chose RESTORE was to be able to individualize the way accountability would be imposed on the offender. The majority of the offenders in the program ended up writing a letter of apology that would be read aloud by the offender at the final conference. The victims in the program were given the choice of attending that final conference and not one victim during the study chose to be present at that conference to hear the apology. Shame, not guilt, is very closely associated with public exposure and creates the feeling of wanting to hide or escape from the situation Rodogno, RESTORE was able to create a situation where the prior meetings between the victim and offender cleared the path for an apology but in the end the apology was not heard in a kind of final culminating address thereby avoiding the semi-public act of reading an apology letter aloud.

Shame, Anger, and Guilt: The Hierarchy of Emotions in Restorative Justice

We learned from Rodogno that guilt feelings create drive to confess, repair, and apologize while shame does the opposite. RESTORE is clearly able to cultivate guilt feelings in the offenders that allows for victim satisfaction while avoiding the shame that might prevent the offender from completing the task. A related and relevant issue to sexual assaults is the use of sex offender registries in the United States because sex offender registries offer valuable insight into the use of guilt and shame into talk about sexual assaults.

The use of sex offender registries is often justified by creating a means for safe reintegration through public monitoring of sex offenders and to prevent sex offender recidivism Prescott, It was already noted that public exposure is strongly linked with shame feelings rather than feelings of guilt. The goal of sex offender registries calls for public exposure of the offender and therefore also creates a greater risk of creating feelings of shame in the offender.

Numerous studies have found that sex offender registrants are often subjected to harassment, difficulty finding housing and employment, and a feeling of being ostracized Tewksbury, ; Prescott, Research on the effectiveness of sex offender registries strongly supports the conclusion that shaming sex offenders does not help in reducing recidivism while creating a system of guilt and accountability does. Prescott found that there is strong evidence that sex offender registration alone reduces recidivism but public notification of sex offenders may actually increase recidivism.

Making someone register as a sex offender with a local police department and provide their biographical information is certainly a way to make the offender feel accountable and also provides a means for establishing guilt. Making public notifications about sex offenders in a specific area or neighborhood is a blatant example of public exposure and undoubtedly creates feelings of shame for the offender. Sex offenses are taken very seriously by society and in general the public view of sex offenders is one of disgust.

The literature regarding victim needs in sex offenses, the effectiveness of restorative justice programs like RESTORE, and the statistics related to sex offender registries bolster the belief that positive effects are achieved when offenders feel guilty not shameful.

The Practice of Punishment

If restorative justice programs can be successful when the crime in question is as taboo as sexual assault then it is hard to imagine too many crimes that would not benefit from that type of restorative justice program. Domestic violence crimes are also taboo and hard to talk about but studies into the effectiveness of restorative justice programs for those crimes are also promising. Law and Contemporary Problems, 72 2 , CBS Local.

CBS Denver News. Jackson, A. The impact of restorative justice on the development of guilt, shame, and empathy among participants in a victim impact training program. Koss, M. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29 9 , Mills, L. The next generation of court-mandated domestic violence treatment: A comparison study of batterer intervention and restorative justice programs.


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Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9 1 , Mingus, W. From prison to integration: Applying modified labeling theory to sex offenders. Criminal Justice Studies, 25 1 , Mitchell, D. Some shooting victims attend Aurora theater reopening event. Fox News. Prescott, J. Do sex offender registries make us less safe?

Laws purporting to protect the public may be increasing sex offender recidivism rates. Regulation, 35 2 , Robinson, P. Competing conceptions of modern desert: Vengeful, deontological, and empirical. Cambridge Law Journal, 67 1 , Rodogno, R. Shame and guilt in restorative justice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 14 2 , Simpson, D.

restorative circles

William David Ross. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Tewksbury, R. Sex offender registries as a tool for public safety: Views from registered offenders. Western Criminology Review, 7 1 , Wenzel, M.

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Retributive and restorative justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32 5 , Winick, B. The jurisprudence of therapeutic jurisprudence. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 3 1 , Wood, J. Justice as therapy: The victim rights clarification act. Communication Quarterly, 51 3 , DuFour, S. DuFour, Scot N. The newsletter highlights recent selections from the journal and useful tips from our blog.

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Forgot password? By Scot N. DuFour , Vol. Cite References Print. Abstract There has been a shift away from the traditional adversarial criminal justice system and towards a victim centered system. Bandes, S. Scot N. A Look at Camus's Metaphysical Rebellion. From the Inquiries Journal Blog. Justice: Evasive and Amorphous. Monthly Newsletter Signup The newsletter highlights recent selections from the journal and useful tips from our blog. Follow us to get updates from Inquiries Journal in your daily feed. In this reading, beliefs about justice are told from a traditional Indigenous perspective of restoration.

Resisting colonial practices and worldviews has been a form of resilience and pertinent for the retention of traditional practices. Interdependence and interconnectedness of everything is basic philosophy of many tribes. An indigenous system or restorative justice seeks to re-establish balance and harmony between victim, perpetrator and community.

A holistic approach is the basis of understanding when it comes to customs, but has faced continuous clash with western approaches and understandings. Restoring traditional systems is a legacy for many peoples that have faced forced migration and assimilation to western ways. Huan, Chen. Restorative Justice: A perspective from Victims. Studies in Sociology of Science. Continuous development of restorative justice models is stressed in this reading. Healing is emphasized as being a necessary component of loss, compensation, and forgiveness and is critically needed in our current system of crime and punishment.

The future development of restorative justice has the potential to revolutionize the judicial system but in small steps. Such autonomous negotiations between victims and offenders need both initiative and intervention from the state. This reading discusses that restorative justice structure and state rulings need to adapt further to develop a model for future practices. Restorative justice and transitional justice are both concepts that both have grown in theoretical and practical terms. This reading discusses these models as being social mechanisms for reconciliation of the criminal justice system.

The fundamentals of both restorative justice and transitional justice are to be redefined in modern terms and to be regarded as transitional, as social ethics change throughout time.


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  • Latha, S. Looking into the history or restorative justice we can find many different forms of practice from all around the world. This reading features models of restorative values and practices in India that have been recorded and practiced since pre-historic times.