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Apology in the Criminal Justice Setting: Evidence for Including Apology as an Additional Component in the Legal System

Petrucci, Carrie J
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 20: 337-362.

As Carrie Petrucci remarks, the scope of the criminal justice system in the United States is immense and growing. Increases in numbers of offenders and criminal justice budgets have fueled two opposing trends. One trend involves more severe sanctions. The other involves an environment ripe for testing innovative strategies. Petrucci explores one such strategy: the use of apology. Her perspective begins with data from a New Zealand evaluation study of family group conferences (Maxwell & Morris, 1993). According to that study, youthful offenders who did not apologize during the conference process were three times more likely to re-offend within three years than youths who did. Petrucci’s purpose in this paper, then, is to synthesize existing a variety of theoretical and empirical evidence for the use of apology to determine what, if anything, the use of apology has to offer the criminal justice setting.


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