Factors Contributing to Victims’ Satisfaction with Restorative Justice Practice: A Qualitative Examination

Published 17/10/2012
Type Article
Author(s) Jac Armstrong
Corresponding Authors Jac Armstrong, Doctoral Candidate and Visiting Lecturer, School of Law, University of Chester, Chester, England

Extant research indicates that restorative justice can deliver benefits which the traditional Criminal Justice Process cannot, ranging from victim satisfaction to reducing offender recidivism (Zehr, 2005; Bergseth & Bouffard, 2007). This qualitative review explored victims’ perceptions of a restorative justice process, implemented as victimoffender mediation. It provides an insight often neglected within extant studies, into the contributory factors which victims perceive as being important to the success of a restorative process. Utilising mix-method data collection (Denzin, 2009; Jupp, 2001), questionnaires were completed at the pre-panel stage to ascertain victims’ perceptions of the restorative process. The results informed interview schedules which were employed within thirty-five semi-structured interviews (Leidner, 1993; Oakley, 2004), conducted with individuals following the conclusion of their restorative meeting. Within the pre-process questionnaires, victims indicated feeling well prepared for their panel. They stated that this process was the most appropriate resolution and all but one victim did not desire an alternative resolution/process. Within the qualitative interviews victims identified the high quality of preparation as being crucial for the process to succeed. Additionally, the independence of the facilitator, combined with the presence of the Police during Panels was identified as being of central importance. Victim Satisfaction remained high throughout the review, consistent with previous research (Umbreit & Coates, 1992; Umbreit et al, 1997; Hayes et al, 1998; Umbreit et al, 2006; Campbell et al, 2005; Wilcox & Hoyle, 2004), with many victims attributing their satisfaction to aspects of the process identified above.