As the popularity of restorative procedures increases, it is important to reflect on what we do and do not know about restorative justice, in order to enhance the effectiveness of restorative practices. In particular, we know little about the mechanisms that encourage success in restorative procedures. This article reviews research examining how, why, and for whom restorative procedures work. We consider how restorative processes differ from more traditional forms of retributive justice, and review the empirical research on factors driving people's perceptions of and responses to restorative justice. Through this overview of the existing knowledge base regarding why and for whom restorative procedures work, we draw attention to gaps in the restorative justice literature. We highlight the need for more focused research in understudied areas—in particular, we discuss the need for further development of experimental methods in restorative justice research—which will enable restorative justice scholars to develop more effective procedures that complement existing legal processes.
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