Source: (2008) Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. 14(2): 142-176.
In this article, I examine the relevance and desirability of shame and guilt to restorative justice
conferences. I argue that a careful study of the psychology of shame and guilt reveals that both emotions possess traits
that can be desirable and traits that can be undesirable for restoration. More in particular, having presented the aims of restorative justice, the importance of face-to-face conferences in reaching these aims, the emotional dynamics that take
place within such conferences, and the relevant parts of the empirical psychology of shame and guilt, I argue that
restorative justice practitioners have to take account of a rather more complex picture than it had hitherto been thought.
Restorative conferences are not simply about “shame management,” though practitioners must certainly avoid shaming
and humiliation. Given the nature of shame, guilt, and restorative conferences, it is not possible to provide a single
concrete precept applicable to all restorative conferences. The successful holding of conferences depends in large part
on the cultural and situational specificities at hand. The latter include among others knowledge of the perceived
relations standing between victim and offender as well as the affective specificities of the individuals involved. (excerpt)
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