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A Pilot Study of a faith-based restorative justice intervention for Christian and non-Christian offenders

October 6, 2009

….The findings from this pilot study show that the Restoring Peace intervention seems to change offenders’ moral motivations. Other variables may be impacting this change as well. Moreover, the voluntary nature of participation in restorative justice programs creates the possibility that positive findings are the result of a selection bias (Latimer, Dowden & Muise, 2005). Clearly offenders in this study saw themselves as religiously and spiritually engaged, which suggests that this group could be expected to respond well and  may not have recidivated in the first 20 months post release regardless of participation in Restoring Peace. Arguably, the positive findings might also suggest that Restoring Peace is a good match for religiously and spiritually engaged offenders because the curriculum is ego syntonic (Worthington & Sandage, 2001).

….The findings indicate that change in moral motivations may be an important area to measure in both faith-based and secular restorative justice programs particularly if post-intervention recidivism rates remain low. Studies, for example, show positive correlation between empathie responsiveness and proneness to guilt, which is a more prosocial response than shame (Tangeny, Wagner, & Gramzow, 1992). Although forgiveness is not a goal of restorative justice dialogue (Armour & Umbreit, 2005), the furtherance of offender forgiveness and forgivingness may counter a moral mandate to seek vengeance (McCullough, Bellah, Kilpatrick, Johnson, 2001).

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