n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Crime and reconciliation : experimental criminology and the future of restorative justice

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The South African Truth and Reconciliation story has provided a moral inspiration for the rest of the world to reconsider reconciliation. Under the name of 'restorative justice' (RJ), the spirit of ubuntu has opened a world-wide window for experimental criminology to address two key questions. The first question is whether reconciliation is a more effective way to prevent crime than pure punishment. If it is, at least in some cases, the second question is how best to structure and administer a system of reconciliation, with what kinds of offences, victims and offenders. These two questions have been the focus of the fifteen-year long Jerry Lee Program of Randomized Controlled Trials in Restorative Justice, including eleven randomized controlled trials in Australia and England. The evidence so far shows that RJ causes most offenders tested to reduce their frequency of offending more than pure punishment, especially those charged with violent offences. RJ also gives victims far more benefit than pure punishment. The challenge for experimental criminology is now to generate more evidence about the best ways of implementing RJ on a far wider scale.

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