Social Justice Research

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 395–432 | Cite as

Restoration and Retribution: How Including Retributive Components Affects the Acceptability of Restorative Justice Procedures


Two studies investigated people’s perceptions of the acceptability of restorative justice procedures for handling crimes that differ in severity. Results from Study 1 supported our hypothesis that as crimes increase in seriousness, people require a restorative justice procedure that also has a possible retributive component (i.e. a prison sentence). Study 1 also demonstrated that individuals assigned lower prison sentences for offenders who successfully completed a restorative procedure as compared to a traditional court procedure. The results from Study 2 replicated those from Study 1, as well as demonstrating that offenders who failed to successfully complete the restorative procedure received no reduction in prison sentence. These findings suggest that in order for citizens to view a restorative justice procedure as an acceptable alternative to the traditional court system for serious crimes, the procedure must allow for the option of some retributive measures.


restorative justice retribution rehabilitation public policy 



We thank Natasha Fedetova for her assistance with data collection, and Adam Alter, Joel Cooper, Geoffrey Goodwin, Deborah Prentice, Joseph Simmons, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. John Darley acknowledges with gratitude the support and companionship provided by the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during the 2005–2006 academic year, which greatly assisted in the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGreen Hall Princeton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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