Source: (2013) Restorative Justice: An International Journal. 1(3):389-413.
A substantial body of research exists regarding legitimacy in prisons. However, little is known still about victims’ perceptions of the Prison Service, and whether appreciating crime in terms of ‘harm’ encourages offenders to accept the legitimacy of their sentence. A multi-method study has examined whether participation in two restorative initiatives at Magilligan prison in Northern Ireland can enhance perceptions of legitimacy for the Prison Service. The study found that victims’ perceptions of procedural fairness relied upon opportunities to express themselves and positive interactions with prison officers. Personal relationships, trust and support, developed through co-facilitating the Victim Impact Programme, encouraged those perceptions. Offenders reported participation in the programme, challenged neutralisation strategies, improved their accountability and sensitivity to victims’ plight, fostered perceptions of the legitimacy of their sentence, and encouraged positive engagement with prison regimes. The evidence presented provides a strong argument for promoting the active participation of victims within custodial settings. (author’s abstract)
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