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Restorative Sentencing: Exploring the Views of the Public.

Roberts, Julian V
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Social Justice Research. 17(3):315-334.

Within the past decade, restorative justice has emerged as a truly global phenomenon.
Although retributive justice has dominated the penal landscape, more
recently, restorative principles at sentencing have attracted increased attention.
Restorative sentencing emphasizes the importance of compensation and reconciliation
between victims and offenders and pays less attention to establishing
proportionality between the seriousness of the offense and the severity of the sentence
imposed. Although voluminous (and proliferating), the scholarly literature
on restorative justice has to date neglected one critical issue: public opinion with
respect to this justice paradigm. Public opinion researchers too, have generally
overlooked this topic. The goal of this paper is to determine which elements
of the new paradigm generate public approval, and which features are likely
to encounter or provoke public opposition, drawing upon related international
research published in English over the past 20 years (1982–2002). The review
reveals widespread support for “restorativeâ€? sentencing options, such as community
service, compensation, and restitution, particularly when applied to young
offenders. However, it also seems clear that public support for these alternatives
to punitive sentencing options declines as the seriousness of the offence increases,
suggesting strong public adherence to the retributive principle of proportionality
in sentencing. Author’s abstract.


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