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European Perspectives on the Evaluation of Restorative Justice: Empathy , Offending and Attitudes ,A Promising New Avenue for Research

Prof. Brian Williams, Doina
June 4, 2015

While references are frequently made in the restorative justice literature to the desirability of eliciting empathy to their victims from offenders, little is known about whether it is in fact worthwile to do so. Does empathy towards victims influence offenders future behaviour? Empathy itself is an ambiguous concept which has been defined in a variety of ways.The implications for the practice and evaluation of restorative justice are that considerably greater clarity is required; the use of common methods of empathy may also be helpful.A distinction needs to be made between perspective taking and empathy; it is suggested that there is a continuum between intellectualising about other’s feelings,responding compassionately to them and actively communicating with them.
It is concluded that practioner involvement in the design of future research of this topic should help to avoid further confusion.


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