Provocation, intent and harm: factors affecting public support for restorative justice processes
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This study tested whether observers’ support for restorative justice is contingent on the perception that an offender deserves respectful treatment. In a 2 (Intent: High, Low) x 2 (Harm: High, Low) x 2 (Provocation: High, Low) between-subjects experimental vignette study, we manipulated circumstances surrounding an assault. Results showed that participants judged the restorative justice procedure to be more respectful than court and whether the offender intended to harm the victim, the amount of harm the victim suffered, and the level of provocation from the victim before the assault impacted participants’ views of how deserving the offender was of respectful treatment. Although there were interactions among the predictors on perceived deservingness of respectful treatment of the offender, perceived deservingness did not predict participants’ choice of restorative justice versus court for deciding the offence. The implications of public support for restorative justice procedures are discussed.