Restorative justice: implications of categorization for reintegration into society
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The current study investigates the social categorization of offenders in the context of Allport’s (1954) contact hypothesis. Often members of society place labels on others they consider different from themselves, the process of labeling by the criminal justice system further influences the perception and categorization of offenders by society members. The quality and quantity of contact an offender will have with the public will depend on the criminal procedure that is used to process an offender. It is within these criminal procedures that prejudicial and hostile attitudes towards offender can be changed. The reduction of prejudicial and hostile attitudes arguably plays an important role in the offender’s reintegration into society after making amends for their actions. Participants in restorative and retributive justice conditions were asked to rate their feeling towards offenders in general and then their perception of contact and feelings towards a specific offender after reading a scenario. Results from this study support the possibility for criminal justice processes with enriched contact to reduce prejudice against offenders and increase positive feeling towards offenders.