Critical Criminology

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 9-23

First online:

Restoring the Victim: Emotional Reactions, Justice Beliefs, and Support for Reparation and Punishment

  • Dena M. GrometAffiliated withThe Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Email author 

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Psychological responses to criminal wrongdoing have primarily focused on the offender, particularly on how (and why) offender punishment satisfies people’s need for justice. However, the restoration of the victim presents another way in which the “psychological itch” that injustice creates can be addressed. In the present article, I discuss two lay theories of how crime victims can be restored: a belief that the harm caused to crime victims should be directly repaired (a restorative justice approach) versus a belief that victim harm should be addressed via the punishment of the offender (a retributive justice approach). These two lay theories are discussed with regard to their emotional and ideological determinants, as well as situational and chronic factors that can affect whether people adopt a reparative or punitive “justice mindset” in dealing with victim concerns (and crime in general).