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Remorse in the Context of Restorative Justice: The Experience of At-Risk Adolescents Aged 18 Through 21.

Higgins, Georgane R.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) PhD Dissertation. Faculty of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center.

Within the criminal justice system, programs in restorative justice hold great promise where punitive regimes often fall short, but remorse appears to be a key element in their success. This study explored the experience of remorse for a particular population of at-risk adolescents aged 18 through 21. Five-hundred and three clients of Urban Peak Denver, an agency serving homeless and runaway youth, constituted the primary population. From this group, 32 participants were recruited for a pilot study through community announcements that sought youth aged 18 though 21 who could read and comprehend English. Since a direct measure of remorse was not available, the TOSCA-A, which measures guilt-proneness, a related construct, was administered. Nine participants with high guilt-proneness scored participated in three focus groups of three participants each. Results showed that one group emphasized the cognitive experience of remorse; another the physical experience; and the third, personality transformation. Forty-five adolescents participated in the formal dissertation study, in which they completed the TOSCA-A. Two high guilt-proneness and two low guilt-proneness focus groups were held, each with three participants. A key finding was while high guilt-proneness groups could remain on topic and talk about their experience of remorse, low guilt-proneness groups had difficulty remaining focused, using humor as a distraction or simply stating remorse was too painful to discuss. (author’s abstract)


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